Is fear of contracting COVID-19 keeping Nova Scotians out of emergency rooms? What happens when they need care for heart disease?
Photo: Dr. Ratika Parkash is co-investigator of a QEII research study that is investigating the pandemic’s indirect effects on the heart. This research is funded through a grant received from the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition.
invested in COVID-19 research
In the early pandemic, research leaders and foundation partners formed the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition to conduct medical research and collect real-time evidence in the race against COVID-19. Partners include Nova Scotia Health, QEII Foundation, IWK Health Centre, IWK Foundation, Research Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, and Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation. With a collective $1.5-million impact, the coalition fosters an environment where health organizations work together to share local research projects. These donor-funded studies impact care at the QEII, and in many cases, around the world. For example, the QEII’s Dr. Steven Beyea (right) is using a one-of-a-kind MRI machine to investigate the relationship between COVID-19 and the brain.
According to the QEII’s Dr. Ratika Parkash, emergency rooms cleared out in the early days of the virus reaching Nova Scotia, on par with a trend seen worldwide. Dr. Parkash is the director of research and heart rhythm in cardiology at the QEII. She and QEII cardiologist, Dr. John Sapp, are exploring COVID-19’s indirect effect on cardiac health. This research is funded by donors through a grant received from the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition. The researchers, who are working with Emergency Health Services (EHS) on the study, suspect fear of the virus kept people at home when they were experiencing symptoms of conditions such as heart attack or stroke. Could provincial messaging surrounding COVID-19 be a driver of these behaviours? How has pandemic response impacted cardiovascular and neurovascular disease? These are some of the important questions posed by this team. Doctors Parkash and Sapp urge Nova Scotians to act quickly if they see signs of heart and stroke – as hospitals are equipped to protect them from contracting the virus.
Staying at home is important, but it is more important that if you develop symptoms that suggest a heart attack or stroke, that you seek medical attention. Our research has found that anything less leads to an increase in worse health outcomes for these conditions. – Dr. Ratika Parkash
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