On Monday, I took care of a 50-year-old patient, whom I will call Richard, to transfer him to intensive care in a Parisian hospital, in anticipation of a possible heart transplant. A few days ago, Richard complained of pain in his chest and back. A first episode had occurred one morning, then it had resumed during the day, but its intensity had dropped after taking a painkiller.
The next day, when he takes the wheel of his truck – he is a truck driver – he feels a very strong pain. This time he asks for help to be called. The Samu doctor, who gave him an electrocardiogram, tells him that he has a heart attack and that he must be taken to a cardiology center to unblock an artery in the process of closing.
At first, all goes well, the gesture is performed by the cardiologist, but Richard’s heart races and it is necessary to perform an electric shock. The heart regularizes, but a new complication occurs, with brief cardiac arrest. An hour later, the situation is stable but the cardiologist notices that part of the heart contracts badly, a sign of the death of part of the muscle.
What happened ? Richard’s first pains were a sign of a threat of myocardial infarction. At this stage, rapid intervention (in the first six hours after the onset of pain) allows the artery in question to be unclogged and to avoid a heart attack which signs the destruction of the part of the heart which no longer receives blood. Unfortunately, Richard waited too long and his hospitalization was too late.
When questioned, he tells us that he thought that “It was going to pass”. And that he had to resume his work, dense in this period of confinement. He indicates that he does “Did not want to disturb”, knowing that hospitals were overwhelmed. This story is typical of the indirect consequences of the coronavirus epidemic, with the delay in treating serious illnesses. Yes, our health care system is under strain, but it is there to take care of all patients. Don’t wait in case of a problem. The severity is not always what you think it is, and prompt treatment can prevent disaster.
Find his previous post, “Sacrified”, and all of his chronicles.