“As a result, she had multiple other strokes and ended up passing away,” says Chowdhary, director of the Overlake Neuroscience Institute in Bellevue, Wash. “This is something that most of the time we’re able to prevent.”

Chowdhary says the patient, a stroke survivor in her mid-50s, had told him she was frightened of the hospital.

She was afraid of the coronavirus.

The fallout from such fear has concerned U.S. doctors for weeks while they have tracked a worrying trend: As the pandemic took hold, the number of patients showing up at hospitals with serious cardiovascular emergencies such as strokes and heart attacks has shrunk dramatically.