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Cardiac arrest rates climbing during COVID-19 pandemic, Peel paramedics say

Cardiac arrest rates climbing during COVID-19 pandemic, Peel paramedics say

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Fear of COVID-19 is keeping patients away from hospital until 'it's too late,' researcher warns

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More people around the world are having heart attacks during the pandemic, but fewer are surviving, research shows. Preliminary data from the GTA shows the number of cardiac arrests in Peel region also have jumped. Natalie Kalata spoke to a Toronto researcher about why it's happening and what you can do to save a life. 2:14

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Cardiac arrest rates have spiked worldwide during the pandemic, a Toronto medical researcher says, and paramedics in Peel Region say they are seeing that same trend play out close to home.  

"Cardiac arrest numbers were up 19 per cent in the first three months of the pandemic" compared to the previous year, said Paul Snobelen, the community programs specialist for Peel Regional Paramedic Services.

Katie Allen, who is researching the problem of sudden cardiac arrest at St. Michael's Hospital, said concerns about catching COVID-19 in hospital are keeping patients in distress from seeking help.

"They're staying at home for longer," she said.

"More of them are having this cardiac arrest at home and by the time the paramedics get there, it's too late. "

Allan said survival rates drop 10 per cent a minute during the first 10 minutes if nothing is done to get a patient's heart started again.

"Now more than ever, I think it's really important for people to learn how to recognize and how to help someone who's having an emergency, but also know what steps they can take."

Those steps include performing chest compressions. 

Raychel Gillis performed CPR and used a defibrillator at 17 to save a life at an arena in East Gwillimbury when the goalie collapsed during her father's hockey game.

"I think honestly, I think everyone needs to know how to do it.".

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