EDMONTON, AB – If you need medical care, please go get checked out.

Alberta Health Services says it has seen a decline this winter in hospital admissions for stroke and heart attack which is a trend similar to what was seen last March and April at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cardiologist Dr. Michelle Graham says without treatment, you may end up dead – or seriously disabled if you have a heart attack or stroke. “You may survive that heart attack while staying at home, but will be at much higher risk of developing heart failure, which has a worse prognosis than many cancers.”

This reminder follows the recent launch of an AHS campaign encouraging Albertans to ‘listen to their bodies’, and if something feels off, to go see your family doctor.

Evidence shows that early treatment for heart attacks can limit or even prevent heart damage; and for strokes, a delay in treatment of as little as 25 minutes can leave stroke patients with severe disability or even death.

In a statement sent out on Tuesday, AHS says the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that some Albertans have not sought treatment out of concern over the virus. Measures taken to ensure the safety of patients may also be viewed by some as an additional barrier to receiving care.

However, throughout the pandemic, Alberta’s health system has been open to patients to diagnose and manage illness and disease.

(With files from AHS)