Just Go – Wil Woan
This week marks the launch of The Global Heart Hub’s ‘Just Go’ campaign. Our international alliance of heart patient organisations, in collaboration with FH Europe, have launched a ‘patient to patient’ confidence-building campaign aimed at saving lives by encouraging those with symptoms of a heart attack, heart valve disease or stroke emergency to seek medical help.
Our message is simple: If your ‘if your heart says so, just go.’
Throughout the COVID-19 response, we have seen a concerning trend where cardiac patients have ignored changes in symptoms, avoided hospitals or presented to too late to benefit from life-saving treatments, due to fear of contracting COVID-19 in hospitals or concerns about adding further strain to stretched healthcare services. Across the world, doctors are reporting that those who delay in seeking medical help are in far worse condition when they finally arrive at the hospital and put simply this must end.
Through my work as Chair of the Valve Council at Global Heart Hub, I have seen the impact directly our alliance has on the lived experience of heart patients. This patient to patient confidence-building campaign is crucial to ensuring we limit the secondary deaths caused by COVID-19. Patients must know that their health system remains committed to delivering for them, emergency treatment has never stopped, and as health systems progress in their response heart disease patients will continue to be treated timely and safely.
Prof Barbara Casadei, President of the European Society of Cardiology says, “This is the strongest evidence yet of the collateral damage caused by the pandemic. Fear of catching the coronavirus means even people in the midst of a life-threatening heart attack are too afraid to go to hospital for life-saving treatment. There has been a lack of public reassurance that every effort has been made to provide clean hospital areas for non-COVID-19 patients. Yet the risk of dying of a heart attack is much greater than that of dying of COVID-19. Moreover, cardiac death is largely preventable if patients with a heart attack come to hospital in time to get treatment. What we are witnessing is an unnecessary loss of life. Our priority must be to stop this from happening. We must continue to save the lives we know how to save.”
The Global Heart Hub was created to protect the lives of heart patients. Throughout the COVID-19 response, we have worked together by sharing information and resources which give strength to each charity. Now, we see reducing this unnecessary loss of life as our collective responsibility, and our #JustGo campaign marks our united response. This global crisis is now a secondary crisis of COVID-19. Our international alliance, along with National Clinical Societies and the European Society of Cardiology, have united behind this shared messaged: ignoring cardiac symptoms or delaying treatment carries the risk of severe complications and potentially life-threatening consequences.
At Heart Valve Voice, we have been working hard to ensure the comfort and confidence of valve disease patients during this challenging time. And in our COVID-19 Patient Story campaigns and clinical updates, we have promoted positive stories of patients successfully treated; giving a window into how the NHS continues to treat heart valve disease patients timely and safely. We know that patient confidence is crucial at this present time, and this transparency plays a vital role in building trust and confidence patient to patient.
Patients we talk to, who were treated during COVID-19, speak positively about the hospitals who treat them, all providing an insight into the ways hospitals have developed practices to ensure patient safety and maintain some treatment capacity. Be it, Jim, George, Peter or Sue, all of these patients have spoken assuredly about the level of trust they had in their service. As well as the comfort and safety the felt while being treated.
This campaign coincides with a shift in the NHS’s response. As the NHS begins to restart urgent and non-urgent elective surgery, their treatment capacity will likely increase. Those who have faced disruptions to treatment need to have confidence that the health service will deliver for them. If you are awaiting heart valve disease treatment, listen to your body, monitor your symptoms, and if they deteriorate, just go.