TUESDAY, March 31, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Thousands of elective and semi-elective surgeries -- including heart and chest operations -- are on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If your heart or chest surgery has been postponed, Dr. Robbin Cohen and Dr. Elizabeth David of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons offer some advice.
"We especially don't want to turn postponed elective or semi-elective operations into emergent ones that may carry greater risk or a lesser result," they wrote in an online guide for patients.
"Worsening symptoms should not be ignored and communication with your cardiologist and/or cardiothoracic surgeon will be essential as we cope with the challenges of COVID-19," they wrote.
Patients whose surgery may have been canceled could include those with coronary artery disease, aortic valve disease, mitral valve disease, lung cancer, esophageal cancer and masses in the thymus gland, they noted.
"During this unprecedented pandemic, it is important to remember that your surgeon and health care team have your care and safety in mind. This is a very fluid situation that is literally changing on an hourly basis. As a result, it is reasonable to expect cancellations or changes to your care plan," Cohen and David wrote.
"Make sure to keep in touch with your cardiothoracic surgeon's office regarding postponements and rescheduling," they advised. "Try to be patient and know that we are trying to take care of you in a way that optimizes your care, as well as the care of other patients and health care workers."
The U.S. Surgeon General recommended delaying elective and semi-elective surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic.
The policy requires health care providers to consider every patient individually in order to balance the risks of delaying surgery with the risks to both patients and hospital staff involved with the operation during the pandemic.
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has a patient guide to heart, lung and esophageal surgery.