discoveries magazine

Cardiac Care in the Coronavirus Age

Cedars-Sinai chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery, Joanna Chikwe, MD.

Joanna Chikwe, MD

Heart disease does not decline in danger just because a viral pandemic dominates the news. Joanna Chikwe, MD, chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at the Smidt Heart Institute, says efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve may have serious consequences for patients with cardiac conditions.

"There is no way of knowing how many patients are dying at home of cardiac causes unrelated to COVID-19 because they have delayed seeking medical attention," says Chikwe, the Irina and George Schaeffer Distinguished Chair in Cardiac Surgery in honor of Alfredo Trento, MD.

Because patients may be nervous about contracting COVID-19 while seeking care for other conditions, heart-related admissions are down by more than 70% in many institutions, according to a study Chikwe co-authored that surveyed over 600 cardiac surgeons on five continents.

Chikwe also served as lead author on follow-up research providing guidance on measures that surgeons and hospitals can take to protect patients from the virus while they receive vital interventional cardiac care.