CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) -- A local hospital says fewer people are coming in for strokes in this pandemic -
But that's not a good sign.
Cooper University Hospital says new patients to its stroke center dropped 38% between March 1st and mid-April.
But those who did come were having more serious strokes.
Study leaders say patients were likely staying away out of fear of contracting COVID-19.
However, they say those patients with mild symptoms risk their health by not seeking help.
"The earlier you get treatment, the better your chances for a good outcome," says Dr. Tudor Jovin, medical director of the Cooper Neurological Institute.
"In the next 3 months, there's maybe an 8 to 10 per cent chance they come back with a severe stroke, a heart attack, or something more problematic that could even be fatal," adds Dr. James Siegler, Neurohospitalist with the Institute.
"Any sign of weakness or slurred speech demands immediate attention," add Dr. Siegler.
Remember the acronym FAST: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties, and Time to call 9-1-1.
Cooper is taking part in a multi-national study on the effect of the pandemic on stroke patients and stroke treatment.
The Cooper team says extra precautions are being taken to protect regular patients from those with COVID-19.