JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Between March and May 2020, Missouri’s hospitals and other health care providers reduced their services to prepare for COVID-19 response. During this time, the number of screenings and preventive procedures dropped precipitously. To highlight the need for Missourians to schedule these important tests, the Missouri Hospital Association is releasing new data on the extent of missed appointments. To help tell this story, MHA also is releasing a series of graphics, “COVID-19 and Delayed Care,” reminding Missourians that screenings and early detection can help maintain and improve health, and ultimately save lives.
The first three components of the series highlight data related to screenings for cancer, heart disease and diabetes. These diseases are leading causes of poor health and death in Missouri.
“Early detection and treatment can make a significant difference in a patient’s outcome,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President and CEO. “Our research indicates that a significant number of Missourians missed important screenings between March and May 2020. This could result in significant harm if conditions go untreated and disease advances undetected.”
Researchers found approximately 90,000 fewer Missourians received screenings for cancer between March and September 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. According to the American Cancer Society, missed opportunities for early detection and treatment of breast and colorectal cancers alone could lead to as many as 10,000 additional cancer-related deaths by 2030.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Missouri with 14,820 heart disease deaths in 2017. COVID-19 has caused a significant drop in heart attack visits to hospitals — a 6.5% decline, or 839 fewer visits during the shutdown period compared to the same period in 2019. The data for congestive heart failure is even more alarming with a 14.1% decline in visits, or a difference of 10,001.
Diabetes is a significant health challenge in Missouri. Approximately 689,000 Missourians, or 13.4% of the adult population, have diabetes. Moreover, experts suggest that 152,000 of these individuals have diabetes but don’t know it — greatly increasing their health risk. More than 1.6 million Missourians, or 35.9% of the population, have prediabetes. Each year, approximately 38,000 Missourians are diagnosed with the disease. Diabetes also is strongly connected to heart disease.
“After heart disease and cancer, COVID-19 was the nation’s third leading cause of death in 2020,” Kuhn said. “To avoid the long-term harm caused by missed screenings and treatment, Missourians are encouraged to talk to their primary health care provider about actions they can take to reduce their risk for cancer, heart disease and diabetes. There’s no reason to wait. Getting regular health screenings may save your life.”
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The Missouri Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association in Jefferson City that represents 140 Missouri hospitals. In addition to representation and advocacy on behalf of its membership, the association offers continuing education programs on current health care topics and seeks to educate the public about health care issues