HVV Canada Joins Global Partners for #JustGO Campaign

July 2, 2020

In recent weeks, many people with heart and stroke emergencies have delayed seeking medical help or decided to just ‘sit it out’ and stay at home because of their fear of contracting COVID-19 in the hospital. This delay in taking action can and has resulted in worse outcomes, ranging from unnecessary loss of life to people being left with disability, chronic heart conditions and poorer quality of life, as the risk of dying from cardiac complications is much greater than that of dying of COVID-19. Cardiac death is largely preventable if those experiencing distress, such as a heart attack or stroke, go to the hospital in time to get treatment.

If you are experiencing a heart or stroke emergency – this is NOT the time to ‘stay at home’ – if your heart says so, ‘#JustGo’ to the hospital or to your doctor.

Navigating Fears

We understand and recognize the concerns that patients are experiencing during this pandemic, but it is important to know that hospitals remain equipped to continue offering urgent and emergency care. Health care units and regions continue to develop plans that make patient safety the top priority, and plans are designed on a region-by-region and hospital-by-hospital basis to ensure that the unique circumstances and capacities of hospitals are being acknowledged.

Many patients are faced with the realities of an unknown future, both personally with their own diagnosis and broadly as the pandemic shifts and changes every day. Fears of getting worse or being in public and having to face being in contact with other people can add high levels of stress and anxiety. These are completely normal feelings to experience during this pandemic, and you should not be alone as you navigate them. Always reach out to someone you trust for comfort and, of course, to your doctor regarding your symptoms, especially if there is a change.

Why You Need to Just Go!

It is extremely important to act quickly when it comes to symptoms of cardiac distress, heart attack or stroke. The longer you wait, the more damage can occur. If you have chest pain or other cardiac distress symptoms – such as pain in the throat, neck, back, stomach or shoulders that lasts for more than 15 minutes, you should call an ambulance. Equally, if you are living with a heart condition and are experiencing new or worsening symptoms, contact your doctor or go to a hospital as soon as possible.

Signs and Symptoms

Heart Valve Disease

Typical symptoms of heart valve disease, especially in those over the age of 65 years of age, include:

  • Shortness of breath or dizziness with exertion that is out of keeping with your normal fitness, can also be accompanied by symptoms of heart attack or heart failure (as described below).
  • Fainting
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness and/or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Abnormal heart rhythm sensations (i.e. irregular heartbeat)

Heart Attack

Typical symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain, tightness, or discomfort that comes on with physical exertion or emotional distress and that is relieved by rest. Sometimes this exertional or emotional chest discomfort can spread to the left arm or jaw area. If a heart attack is severe, these symptoms can persist when you are resting. You may feel dizzy (lightheaded), nauseous sweaty or short of breath. These symptoms may not be as obvious if you are female or have diabetes.

Heart Failure

Typical symptoms of heart failure include:

  • Shortness of breath with exertion that is out of keeping with your normal fitness, usually associated with swelling in the feet and ankles or abdominal bloating and reduced appetite, due to fluid retention. Shortness of breath while lying down in bed that is relieved by sitting up and weight gain over a short period of time (>2kg over 2 days) are also symptoms.


Typical symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Sudden loss of speech, vision, ability to walk, or power in your hands or legs
  • No warning signs – sudden loss of ability to do something you normally can do
  • Sudden weakness of the face, arms, or legs
  • Droop on one side of your face
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others
  • Sudden loss of vision in half the visual field
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Familial Hypercholesterolemia (Fh)

  • All of the above symptoms in a person younger than 55 who has a diagnosis of FH, has a family member diagnosed with FH or has multiple other family members with a history of heart disease or stroke.

COVID-19 Webpages for Provinces and Territories

Canadian patients can learn more about the status of their specific health care regions by visiting the individual COVID-19 websites for provinces and territories. See below for access to these sites:

About the Campaign

The ‘Just Go’ campaign is led by Global Heart Hub (GHH), with FH Europe, to spread the message that if you are experiencing a heart or stroke emergency – this is NOT the time to ‘stay at home’ – if your heart says so, ‘Just Go’ to the hospital or to your doctor.

The campaign began on Monday, June 15 and will run until July 31, 2020. GHH and FH Europe Both organizations have joined forces on this patient-to-patient communications campaign to highlight the importance of seeking medical help for cardiac and stroke emergencies during the COVID-19 crisis. The GHH councils, including Heart Valve Disease, Heart Failure, Cardio/Diabetes Councils, have all been participating in the campaign.

The ‘Just Go’ Campaign has been endorsed by:

  • European Society of Cardiology;
  • World Heart Federation;
  • European Atherosclerosis Society;
  • Global Alliance for Patient Access; and,
  • Industry sponsors including Abbott and Edwards Lifesciences
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