Soon after he repurposed his 60-bed cardiac unit to accommodate covid-19 patients, Mount Sinai cardiovascular surgeon John Puskas was stumped: With nearly all the beds now occupied by victims of the novel coronavirus, where had all the heart patients gone? Even those left almost speechless by crushing chest pain weren’t coming through the ER. Variations on that question have puzzled clinicians not only in New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, but across the country and in Spain, the United Kingdom and China. Five weeks into a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, many doctors believe the pandemic has produced a silent sub-epidemic of people who need care at hospitals but dare not come in. They include people with inflamed appendixes, infected gall bladders and bowel obstructions, and more ominously, chest pains and stroke symptoms, according to these physicians and early research. “Everybody is frightened to come to the ER,” Puskas said.
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