DALLAS, July 23 - As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in 44 states and fear of calling 9-1-1 or going to the hospital persists, new data from a survey conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, found that Hispanics and Black Americans are most likely to stay home if experiencing medical emergencies, like a heart or a stroke, to avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19 at the hospital.
New data from the survey found more than half of Hispanics (55%) would be scared to go to the hospital if they thought they were having a heart attack or stroke because they might get infected with COVID-19, and 41% would stay home if they thought they were experiencing a heart attack or stroke rather than risk getting infected at the hospital.
That survey also found that nearly half of Black Americans (45%) say they would be scared to go to the hospital if they thought they were having a heart attack or stroke because they might get infected with COVID-19, and a third (33%) would stay home if they thought they were experiencing a heart attack or stroke rather than risk getting infected at the hospital.
Comparatively, less than half of whites (40%) would be scared to go to the hospital if they thought they were having a heart attack or stroke because they might get infected with COVID-19, and less than a quarter (24%) would rather stay home than risk getting infected at the hospital.
Heart attacks and stroke haven’t stopped during to the pandemic. To help alleviate fears, the American Heart Association created a public education and awareness campaign in English and in Spanish called Don’t Die of Doubt™ that reminds Americans, especially in Hispanic and Black communities, that the hospital remains the safest place to be if experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke.
“This finding is yet another challenge for Black and Hispanic communities, who are more likely to have underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes and dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates,” said Rafael Ortiz, MD, American Heart Association volunteer medical expert and Chief of Neuro-Endovascular Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health. “I am proud of the work the American Heart Association is doing to address this critical issue with the Don’t Die of Doubt campaign. Health care professionals know what to do even when things seem chaotic, and emergency departments have made plans behind the scenes to keep patients and healthcare workers safe even during a pandemic.”
These historically excluded communities are dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates, as they’re more likely to have underlying health conditions, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States, and heart attack and stroke symptoms are always urgent. The hospital is still the safest place to be, so don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 and don’t stay home –- don’t die of doubt.
Symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes — it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- Women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain. Some women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
Use the letters in "F.A.S.T." to recognize signs of a stroke:
- Face Drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
- Arm weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech difficulty. Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
- Time to call 9-1-1. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
For more about the American Heart Association’s “Don’t Die of Doubt” campaign, visit www.heart.org/dontdieofdoubt.
- View this release in Spanish.
- Don’t Die of Doubt website (Spanish)
- American Heart Association COVID-19 resources (Spanish)
- Heart attack symptoms (Spanish)
- Stroke symptoms (Spanish)
- Visit the Support Network for peer to peer support for patients
- Follow American Heart Association/American Stroke Association news on Twitter @HeartNews
The Association receives funding primarily from individuals. Foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations and health insurance providers are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.
This survey was conducted online within the United States between May 29 - June 2, 2020 among 2050 adults (aged 18 and over) by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Heart Association via its Harris On Demand omnibus product. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, household income, education, employment, marital status and size of household where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, the words “margin of error” are avoided as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the online panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1
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For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)
 The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Heart Association.