'30 Minutes Away From Death': Fear Of Hospital Amid Pandemic Almost Cost This Man His Life

Experts fear this may lead to thousands of indirect deaths resulting from the coronavirus crisis as people are either anxious not to burden the NHS with symptoms or are too scared of being in a medical setting during the pandemic and being exposed to Covid-19. Paul Robson, 46, collapsed at home with a heart attack during the coronavirus lockdown and was taken to hospital where doctors told him that if he had got there 30 minutes later, he wouldn’t have survived the ordeal. “I thought my doctor would be inundated with other patients and I didn’t want to add to the pressure.” Paul, a veterinary administrator for the British Horseracing Authority, describes the palpitations as a racing heartbeat and he felt dizzy and uncomfortable. “I kept thinking it would go away and that if not, I might go to the doctor when things had quietened down a bit with coronavirus.” The drama unfolded during the first weekend of the UK coronavirus lockdown when Paul, who had no previous history of heart issues, was struck by the palpitations while watching television with his housemate. He went to the bathroom at around 4am on the Sunday morning and suddenly collapsed hitting his head on the side of the bath and recalls having an agonising pain in his chest and arm and feeling sick. Paul says it took an hour and 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive as they were under so much pressure and during his agonising wait, he managed to crawl to the bottom of the stairs. “I said: ‘I’m having a heart attack aren’t I?’ and the paramedic said yes, she thought I was and they needed to urgently get me to hospital.” Paul confesses he was anxious about going into a hospital amid the coronavirus pandemic, but knew he had no choice. He underwent an angiogram, a special type of X-ray where dye is used to allow doctors to look at the coronary arteries and see how well blood is flowing and identify any narrowings. “Knowing this makes me feel incredibly lucky and I am just glad the ambulance arrived when it did and I managed to get the treatment I needed in time. “I was just 30 minutes away from death and that is a disturbing realisation.” Despite Paul’s initial fears and reservations about going into a hospital during the coronavirus pandemic, he was pleasantly surprised to find he was taken straight to the cardiac unit where the environment was calm. He wants to allay any fears and misconceptions that people might have about going to hospital during the pandemic and is urging them to seek medical help when they need it. “I am just glad I got the medical attention I needed before it was too late.” She told HuffPost UK: “This is a significant drop in emergency attendees for heart attacks and although we would like to think it is because people are not experiencing them, the reality is that they are scared and are avoiding and delaying treatment. The charity organisation fears this will lead to unnecessary deaths and more people living with debilitating heart failure if they do recover. With stroke striking every five minutes, she fears thousands of people could be at risk of stroke-related death or severe disability if they don’t act FAST on symptoms. “We think it is either because people are not wanting to burden the NHS when they know it is prioritising coronavirus – or because they are frightened of being in a hospital setting during this pandemic. “People are frightened of catching coronavirus and we are concerned they will be having strokes at home and not getting the vital treatment they need and there will potentially be deaths and disabilities that could have been prevented.” Bouverie told HuffPost UK that the NHS is equipped to treat both stroke and coronavirus and that patients can be assessed by telephone or FaceTime and may not even need to attend hospital. Seeking medical help is one of the four reasons people can safely leave home during lockdown in line with government guidance. Stevens said: “While NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to deal with coronavirus, they have also worked hard to ensure patients who don’t have Covid-19 can safely access essential services.