Dear Members,

Last year at the onset of COVID-19, SCAI conducted a national survey to determine Americans' fears and concerns surrounding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) when experiencing a medical emergency such as myocardial infarction (MI) or stroke. The results showed that Americans needed to be reassured that proper precautions and protocols were in place to keep them safe from COVID-19 and make them feel comfortable to go to the hospital and visit their doctors. Therefore, we developed several white papers to educate the medical community and standardize safety precautions. We also initiated the SCAI Seconds Still Count patient awareness media campaign to educate people that even in this COVID-19 environment, seconds still count when it comes to their heart health.

The campaign has been tremendously successful in raising awareness of cardiovascular disease including recognition of symptoms, prevention and treatment, and ensuring patients receive care they need for ongoing health issues and acute medical emergencies.

However, the pandemic still rages on. Therefore, to determine current perceptions in the community, particularly among minorities at risk of COVID, in December 2020 SCAI conducted another national survey of more than 3000 consumers.

Overview and Survey Methodology:

  • 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.
  • Latino Population: This survey included 1,023 responses from a sample of Latino respondents over age 18 using census data for age and sex balancing. 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.

Key Takeaways:

  • Nearly 40 percent of Americans still 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
  • 75 percent of Black/African Americans and 71 percent of Latinos would not be comfortable scheduling a medical procedure
  • 2/3 (67%) of Black and Latino respondents would not be comfortable going to the hospital for an emergency while COVID-19 is still a risk, compared to 42 percent of the general population
  • More people are afraid of contracting COVID-19 (58 percent) than having a heart attack or stroke (42 percent)

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. In fact, SCAI’s survey 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 Latino adult respondents would be uncomfortable going to the doctor’s office, compared to only 25 percent of the general population.

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 Latino 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 Latino respondents currently feel comfortable scheduling a medical procedure, compared to 48 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 overcome today is the prevention and treatment of chronic disease among individuals who have fallen out of care due to fear of the virus. We know that cardiac care can’t wait until COVID-19 goes away. We’ve seen an increase in medical emergencies like MI and stroke, and the impact of patients delaying treatment for progressive heart conditions like aortic stenosis and atrial fibrillation. Delays in cardiovascular care may result in more complications and time spent in the hospital. For the millions of patients with heart disease, we hope the Seconds Still Campaign will encourage patients to not let fear stand in the way of better outcomes and quality of life.

In the coming months, the campaign will continue to amplify its messaging of continuing care, especially when it comes to managing their heart health, by reaching out to at-risk individuals and families while they watch local news, connect on social media, and stream entertainment. We will also hope to partner with more patient support organizations like our collaboration with Mended Hearts, and connecting with local faith leaders to spread awareness across the nation. Our widely used hospital toolkit is being updated with new infographics, social media content, fact sheets, and other turnkey communications that can be shared across your systems. You can anticipate the new toolkit in the coming weeks. I hope you will join me in spreading awareness about the importance of getting our patients back in care to help save lives during this critical time.

Sincerely,

Cindy Grines, MD, MSCAI
SCAI 2020–21 President
president@scai.org