Wednesday, October 27

Far fewer suffered a heart attack during the pandemic. Now specialists are wondering why.


Myocardial infarction is often referred to as a blue light drug. Patients must be treated quickly. During the pandemic, the disease affected 11 percent fewer.

During the three months that Norway was closed, fewer people came to the hospital with heart attacks and heart failure. Hand washing, sprinting, and better infection control hygiene may be one of the reasons.

The decline in patients with acute myocardial infarction, atrial fibrillation and heart failure is 8 to 10 percent compared to 2019. And the death rate from cardiovascular disease in 2020 was the lowest recorded since 1970.

Show new numbers of The cardiovascular registry at the National Institute of Public Health.

Part of the decline may be related to the coronary pandemic.

Myocardial infarction is a serious disease that develops quickly. Therefore, it is important to get to the hospital early. Myocardial infarction is the most common cause of death in the Western world.

There is a decline in all cardiovascular diseases in 2020, the largest being myocardial infarction, atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

Chief physician Rune Kvåle of the National Institute of Public Health says it’s hard to say for sure why.

– But it may be related to the measures that were implemented to combat the coronavirus, he says.

– You must find the causes

Secretary General Mina Gerhardsen of the National Association for Heart and Lung Diseases (LHL) is pleased with the numbers. She says more needs to be found out now about the reasons for the decline.

– Is it the case that simple routines or measures can help reduce the extent of heart disease in the future? Whether the absence of influenza and other infectious diseases means that we eliminate a possible trigger for heart disease is important knowledge, he says.

Gerhardsen wonders whether infection control measures should be continued.

– Perhaps there are several reasons why we should continue to wash our hands, cough in the elbow and stay home with cold symptoms?

Largest decline when Norway closed

Figures show that the decline was greatest in March and April 2020. It was at the same time that the government implemented comprehensive measures to combat the coronavirus.

Among other things, there were strict restrictions on the number of people who could be in private homes and strict infection control measures.

In addition, health authorities recalled how important it is to wash your hands, cough well and stay home if you get sick.

Kvåle highlights these possible reasons for the decline:

  • The overall decline in planned admissions for various non-urgent surgeries / treatments.
  • Fewer have seen a doctor for other reasons. Like some patients with mild or transient symptoms.
  • For the rest, it has been debated whether the decrease in illnesses caused by influenza after the introduction of the measures in March may have been significant.

Mortality is the same

– However, based on figures from the Causes of Death Registry, there is no reason to believe that these changes have affected mortality from cardiovascular disease in general: mortality from cardiovascular disease in 2020 was the lowest recorded since 1970, he notes.

The registry of causes of death shows that the decrease in mortality from 2019 to 2020 has been within expectations when compared with the trend of the last ten years.

– This also applies to deaths from acute myocardial infarction, says Kvåle.

Rune Kvåle at FHI says there is also a slight decrease in the number of registered stroke patients.

– But when we look at all of 2020, the decrease in the number of new cases per 100,000 within what could be expected, says Kvåle.

Henrik Schirmer, professor of cardiology in the Department of Cardiology at Akershus University Hospital (Ahus), was last year co-author of a published Norwegian study Circulation.

The study showed that mortality in Norway decreased compared to normal years.

He believes that statistics from the Cardiovascular Registry confirm that the number of patients with heart attack, atrial fibrillation and heart failure has decreased.

– Could it be because some heart patients have gone unnoticed? Did you not consult the health service?

– No. Mortality has also decreased. There has been a real decrease in these patients. During the pandemic, we have behaved more sensibly. Many were vaccinated against the seasonal flu. Most have been vaccinated against COVID-19, he says.

Henrik Schirmer explains that with fewer diseases in the circulation, inflammatory reactions are also reduced.

– Having an inflammatory condition in the body can increase the risk of heart attack.


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