New Data Confirms Alarming Trend: Covid-19 Fears Are Causing Americans to Avoid the Doctor’s Office and Delay Routine Care | SCAI

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 13, 2021)–According to a new national survey released today by SCAI, nearly 40 percent of Americans still do not feel safe going to the doctor’s office while coronavirus (COVID-19) is still a risk. As the United States approaches the one-year mark of the ongoing pandemic, these results underscore concerns that many Americans are not maintaining their overall health through routine care due to fears of COVID-19.

This new data comes at an important time when there has been a more than 20 percent decrease in primary care visits since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (JAMA), and a nearly 40 percent drop in patients being treated for a life-threatening cardiac event known as a STEMI (JACC). In fact, SCAI’s nationally representative survey, conducted with DEFINITION6, found more than 30 percent of Americans have not had a routine check-up with their doctor since the pandemic began and more than half would be uncomfortable scheduling a medical procedure while COVID-19 is still a risk. More than 45 percent of African American and Latinx adult respondents would be uncomfortable going to the doctor’s office, compared to only 25 percent of the general population.

“COVID-19 has changed the healthcare landscape as we know it, with consequences that will reverberate potentially for years to come. One challenge we can help prevent today is the impact of chronic disease among individuals who have fallen out of care due to fear of the virus,” said Cindy Grines, MD, MSCAI, SCAI president, and chief scientific officer, Northside Cardiovascular Institute in Atlanta. “Cardiac care can’t wait for a time without COVID-19. We’ve seen an increase in medical emergencies like heart attacks and stroke, and the impact of cardiac patients delaying treatment for progressive heart conditions like aortic stenosis and atrial fibrillation, which can result in more complications and time spent in the hospital. For the millions of patients with heart disease, don’t let fear stand in the way of better outcomes and quality of life.” 

Chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes are known to disproportionately impact minority populations. When it comes to heart health, African American adults ages 18-49 are two times as likely to die from heart disease than whites (CDC). Yet, African American and Latinx adults feel less safe going to the doctor’s office during the ongoing pandemic compared to the general population. Only 25 percent of African American adults and 29 percent of Latinx respondents currently feel comfortable scheduling a medical procedure, compared to 48 percent of the general population.

“Although COVID-19 is still a risk, we cannot let fear cause patients with heart disease to pause treatment for their condition or ignore other aspects of their health,” said Kirk N. Garratt, MD, MSc, MSCAI, medical director, Center for Heart & Vascular Health, ChristianaCare in Newark, Del., and SCAI past president. “Now more than ever, it is crucial to stay in care: keep regular check-ups on the calendar, take advantage of telemedicine when available, get the COVID-19 vaccine, and go through with possibly life-saving procedures. Remember, heart disease isn’t in quarantine—when it comes to your health, seconds still count.”

To help combat these fears, SCAI is educating and empowering individuals to stay in care, especially when it comes to managing their heart health. The Seconds Still Count Campaign is working to help Americans remember the signs of a heart attack or stroke and remind people to continue consistent treatment and maintenance for overall health.

Key Survey Highlights

  • Nearly 40 percent of Americans do not feel safe going to a doctor’s office during COVID-19
  • More than 30 percent of Americans have not had a routine check-up with their doctor since the COVID-19 pandemic began
  • More than half (51 percent) of people do not feel comfortable scheduling a medical procedure during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Only 25 percent of Black/African Americans and 29 percent of Latinxs would be comfortable scheduling a medical procedure
  • Only 33 percent of Black and African Americans and 34 percent of Latinx respondents would be comfortable going to the hospital for an emergency while COVID-19 is still a risk, compared to 58 percent of the general population
  • More people are afraid of contracting COVID-19 (58 percent) than having a heart attack or stroke (42 percent)

SCAI Seconds Count: Stay in Care Checklist

  • Stay in Care–Whether you are due for an annual visit, preventative screening, or meeting with a specialist, schedule in-person, or telehealth visits to stay connected.
  • Patients with chronic illnesses, particularly cardiovascular disease, should continue to regularly communicate with their physician to schedule check-ups and monitor ongoing symptoms.
  • Know your symptoms that could signal a major medical emergency like a heart attack or stroke.
  • Seconds Still Count when it comes to survival. Visit to learn more.


About the Survey

SCAI’s Seconds Still Count fielded three surveys to better understand perceptions from the general population, the Latinx population, and the Black/African American population.

  • General Population: This survey included 1,005 responses from a nationally representative sample over age 18. The confidence level for the survey is 95 percent with a margin of error of ±3.09.
  • Latinx Population: This survey included 1,023 responses from a sample of Latinx respondents using census data for age and sex balancing. All respondents are over age 18. The confidence level for the survey is 95 percent with a margin of error of ±3.06.
  • Black/African American Population: This survey included 1,041 responses from a sample of Black/African American respondents using census data for age and sex balancing. All respondents are over age 18. The confidence level for the survey is 95 percent with a margin of error of ±3.04.


About the Seconds Still Count Campaign

Seconds Still Count is part of SCAI’s ongoing efforts to promote healthy hearts, one family at a time. In 2020, with the onset of COVID-19, SCAI evolved its Seconds Count Campaign to remind the public that fear of the virus should not stop people from seeking treatment for heart attack or stroke. The campaign works to raise awareness of cardiovascular health and wellness, including prevention, management, and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and ensure patients receive care they need for ongoing health issues and acute medical emergencies. When patients and their families are educated about cardiovascular health, they are better prepared to navigate the medical system and actively participate in their care.


About SCAI

The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions is a professional organization representing more than 4,000 invasive and interventional cardiology professionals in approximately 75 nations. SCAI's mission is to promote excellence in invasive/interventional cardiovascular medicine through physician education and representation, and advancement of quality standards to enhance patient care. 


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