Bulgarian hospitals have treated 1/3 less serious heart disease patients during the coronavirus crisis

Bulgarian hospitals have treated 1/3 less serious heart disease patients during the coronavirus crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on access and quality of healthcare regarding some illnesses, an analysis of the latest Hospital Index data shows. The report compares the number of patients who have sought medical treatment in areas such as invasive cardiology, oncology, as well as patients with strokes.

The Hospital Index is a joint initiative by Gallup International and the specialized site clinika.bg. The raw data comes from the National Health Fund.

Less than 33% of patients have gone through invasive diagnostic cardiac procedures between February 1 and April 30 2020, compared to the same period last year.

Heart disease patients, who have recieved a pacemaker for the same period register more than 35% drop compared to last year. The overall medical treatment with cardiac problems have all fallen by about a third, between 18% and 35%.

Hospitals have also treated 21% less cases of strokes compared to 2019. Doctors have administered emergency medical treatment in cases of thrombotic stokes 10% less than last year.

Oncology also registers fewer treated patients but by less compared to the above-mentioned. Doctors have developed 13% less plans for oncology treatments compared to the same period in 2019. These include both new patients and revisions of treatments for existing patients.

The analysis suggests that chemotherapy has not been affected at all by the lockdown: chemotherapy has actually gone up 6%.

The authors highlight that these types of conditions – cardiac, neurological and oncological – do not register rapid highs and lows. On the contrary, changes in the numbers under normal circumstances are relatively predictable and very slow over time. This is why such vast drops in patients seeking medical treatment for those types of conditions are a sign of something else – in this case – the COVID-19 pandemic.

Access to healthcare has been notably disrupted. Both due to the fact that many hospitals have had to postpone planed treatments and procedures, but also because of patients' fear of becoming infected with the novel coronavirus.

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