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Hospitals are seeing heart attack and other emergency patients drop off over coronavirus fears

The coronavirus pandemic is creating a "silent sub-epidemic" of its own, The Washington Post reports.

When doctors look around their hospitals, especially around New York City and other major metropolitan areas, they see nothing but coronavirus patients. But those beds are usually filled with patients being treated for other emergencies, leaving some doctors wondering where the heart attack and stroke patients have gone.

Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz explicitly asked this question in an April 6 op-ed for The New York Times. At Yale New Haven Hospital where he works, Krumholz said at the time he had "almost 300 people stricken with COVID-19, and the numbers keep rising — and yet we are not yet at capacity because of a marked decline in our usual types of patients." Krumholz's hospital has never been so empty, he said.

Cardiovascular surgeon John Puskas said the same of his unit in New York City's Mount Sinai hospital. Nearly all of his 60-bed cardiac unit is filled with coronavirus patients, but "even those left almost speechless by crushing chest pain weren't coming through the ER," the Post writes. People with "inflamed appendixes, infected gall bladders, bowel obstructions and, more ominously, chest pains and stroke symptoms," have all gone missing, the Post reports via physicians and early research. The explanation is devastatingly simple, Puskas said: "Everybody is frightened to come to the ER." Read more at The Washington Post.