AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Medical experts report seeing more people with cardiac problems across the area.

Gold Cross ambulances have been hitting the streets of the CSRA each and every day to help people. But compared to this time last year, they have seen more calls for a very important issue.

“We have looked at the numbers and noticed that from last year at this time, we’re up 600 more chest pain calls,” said Michael Meyers, Director of Business Development for Gold Cross EMS.

He told NewsChannel 6 they believe people not following up with their doctors during the pandemic may be the cause of the increase.

“COVID did a lot to scare people. A lot of things were done differently. People were doing telemedicine and still doing telemedicine,” he explained. “And now we are seeing, I believe, the result of those things happening.”

Other local hospitals report seeing an increase in cardiac cases too. A spokesperson from Augusta University reports seeing a high number of new referrals to see new patients in the cardiology clinic. And nearby at University Hospital, Dr. Kraig Wangsnes, an interventional cardiologist with University Cardiology Associates, reports they have definitely seen more chest pain calls, but it hasn’t equated to more actual cardiac disease.

“We’re not actually seeing more acute coronary syndrome. We’re just not seeing that in the cath lab,” he said. “I could postulate that stress, COVID, general anxiety is causing a lot of people to experience chest pain.”

He also said, “I know many of my patients have remarked on how stressed they seem – they can’t watch the news anymore – things like that.”

One medical heart condition Dr. Wangsnes has seen more of is Broken Heart Syndrome, a temporary heart condition brought on by high stress or emotions and can mimic a heart attack.

“It use to be a rarity,” he said. “I might see one case every one or two years, but I’ve actually had four cases in just the past five or six weeks.”

Across the country, some cardiologists saw the increase during the height of the pandemic, stress and simply neglecting cardiac tests.

Dr. William Lewis, Chief of Cardiology for MetroHealth System said in September 2020, “We went back and looked at our number of stress tests that we had preformed, May, June and July of 2019 and compared it to May, June and July of 2020 and what we found was there was about a 45% reduction in the number of people who were ordering or getting stress tests.”

Meyers added that Gold Cross is also seeing a huge rise in overdoses and psychiatric calls more than anything.