Don’t Delay Emergency Heart Care

ThedaCare Cardiologist Explains Importance of Early Intervention

APPLETON, Wis. – Health systems nationwide are urging people to seek medical care if they experience signs of a heart attack or stroke.

“Our teams are ready to provide lifesaving interventions for patients,” said Simone Fearon, M.D., Medical Director and Physician Leader with ThedaCare Cardiovascular Care. “That does not change as we are responding to COVID-19. We do not want people to delay heart care over fears of the virus.”

Multiple reports across the nation have cited a significant reduction in admissions for heart attacks during the pandemic. Many experts link the decline in the volume of heart attack and stroke patients to the fear people may have of coming into a hospital at this time.

“There are early indicators that patients are not seeking care due to fear of becoming infected with COVID-19 while seeking medical care,” she said. “We want people to know ThedaCare is taking necessary precautions to keep patients and team members safe in all areas of care.”

Changes to ensure safety include screeners who will greet you at the door upon arriving at the hospital. Once there, you will be asked for a temperature check and to wear a mask – for your safety and the safety of others.

Physicians expected a surge in heart attacks during the pandemic. Public health officials have said that underlying chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease puts people at greater risk of complications related to COVID-19. Respiratory infections like the coronavirus could compound the chance of a heart attack.

Dr. Fearon said people with heart attack or stroke symptoms could be hurting rather than helping themselves by delaying emergency care during this pandemic.

“If a patient delays emergency interventions, the risks for long-term mechanical complications such as weak heart muscle, abnormal heart rhythms and severe valve problems increase,” said Dr. Fearon. “Avoiding a 911 call or going to the emergency department can potentially translate into more serious health consequences.”

Dr. Fearon advised people to take note of the warning signs from the American Heart Association and seek medical attention immediately if they are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Heart Attack

  • Chest discomfort, mostly in the center of the chest.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, mainly in the arms, or the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, often accompanies chest discomfort.
  • Other signs include cold sweats, nausea, fatigue or lightheadedness.


  • Sudden numbness or weakness. In the face arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden disorientation, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Other difficulties, sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden, severe headache.

“As we work our way through this pandemic, we hope to have more understanding around these trends and long-term consequences of not seeking emergency care,” she said. “Events like heart attacks and strokes are life-threatening, and we want people to feel empowered to seek immediate help.”

Editor’s Note

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please call your primary care provider FIRST and team members will help direct you to the appropriate care. The community can also use the online symptom checker, or call the COVID-19 Community Line, 920.830.6877.


About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 18 counties and employs more than 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health care organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.