Data shows stroke, heart attack, MVC calls have decreased during pandemic

The chief medical officer of data company ESO said stroke and heart attack patients may be transporting themselves or not seeking treatment

Editorial Director Greg Friese, MS, NRP, analyzed ESO Solutions data to see how shelter-in-place orders are impacting responses to motor vehicle collisions and what we can expect in the future. Read more.

By Laura French

AUSTIN, Texas — Emergency calls related to stroke, heart attack and motor vehicle crashes have decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a data company that serves EMS agencies, fire departments and hospitals. 

ESO reported Monday that data collected from more than 2,600 EMS agencies in the United States indicated that, from January to mid-March of this year, 911 calls for stroke decreased by 20%, heart attack calls decreased by 25% and MVC calls were down 45%. Cardiac arrest calls saw no change in frequency, according to ESO. 

"We are seeing a decrease in the number of 911 calls overall as well as those related to motor vehicle crashes. Considering the number of shelter-in-place orders and other social distancing requirements, this is something we expected," ESO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brent Myers said in a statement. "What is surprising is to see a decrease in calls related to heart attack and stroke." 

Myers outlined two possible scenarios for why stroke and heart attack calls have been decreasing: patients experiencing stroke and heart attack symptoms are transporting themselves to the hospital without calling 911, or patients are staying home and not seeking any treatment, a scenario Myers called "worrisome."

"The data around stroke and heart attack are very concerning since the outcomes for these time-sensitive conditions without immediate intervention are substantially worse than for those who receive prompt treatment," Myers said. "Individuals who experience signs and symptoms related to medical emergencies like stroke or heart attack should seek care." 

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