Echocardiographer Susan Jamieson has been visiting patients at home throughout the pandemic
Across the world there has been a big drop in people accessing health services when they have concerns about their heart, for fear of catching Covid-19.
This is a big problem, as a lot of cardiac conditions need early evaluation to signpost patients to the correct treatment, and if people do not access these services when they need them it can lead to long-lasting and dire circumstances.
It is understandable that there is a fear in such a volatile situation, especially for those who are shielding with pre-existing conditions. Throughout Covid-19, we have been providing an essential service throughout Waltham Forest for the NHS and have continued to see patients who have been referred by their GP in their own home for vital heart scans (echocardiography).
This has been particularly important as many hospitals have reduced their outpatient services to concentrate on their coronavirus response. It also reduces the risk to patients, particularly those who are shielding, as they receive the same high-quality scan performed in hospitals in their own home – and this is the only service of its type in the country.
Obviously, the advice if you have chest pain which does not go away is to call for an ambulance, but if you have other concerns about your heart you should call your doctor and discuss your symptoms. If your GP feels that you require a heart scan you can request that the referral is made to us at Specialist Cardiac Diagnostics, and we can then see you promptly using a high level of infection control in your own home.
On a personal note, although it is incredibly stressful working on the frontline during this outbreak, it has been incredibly rewarding – especially being invited into the homes of patients who may have not seen people for weeks. They are often vulnerable and experiencing quite worrying symptoms.
In a short period of time I am able to not only talk to them about their fears but obtain vital information about their heart and be able to inform them immediately about their results and what action needs to be taken when the results reach the GP later that day. This service is available to anyone over 18 years.
The take-home message though is please do not ignore signs which may relate to your heart. Please discuss it with your GP as soon as possible and we will be able to come and see you in your own home.