By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New research shows avoiding doctors and hospitals because of fears of the coronavirus continues to be a problem that could be putting some people in danger. The new research reveals some people feel seeking medical attention is riskier than going to a hair salon or concert.

Cardiologists have a warning for heart patients, saying not getting treatment for symptoms could be a deadly mistake.

Even though he was worried because of the pandemic, Jim Woodard is glad he saw a doctor when he felt his heart skipping.

He was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and had an ablation to correct his abnormal heart rhythm.

“It was just very clear this was something I needed to do and I needed to do it quickly,” Woodard said.

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Nationwide, doctors are concerned about patients continuing to avoid treatment for heart attacks, strokes and other problems.

A new survey finds 40% of Americans still view going to the hospital as risky, even more than a hair salon, concert or beach.

Doctors are reporting up to a 60% reduction in heart attack admissions.

“If we get to patients having heart attacks, get to patients having arrhythmias within minutes as opposed to days, we can make a substantial impact upon mortality, literally can save lives by intervening early,” cardiologist Dr. Larry Chinitz said.

Patients with serious symptoms are being urged to contact their doctor or go to an emergency department. Hospitals are taking extensive precautions to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

“The health care system has taken this very seriously from the beginning. And we have, in fact, created a healthy and safe environment,” Chinitz said. “In many ways, hospitals can be amongst the safest places to be right now.”

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Many facilities have created systems where patients like Woodard go home the same day. It’s been three weeks since his ablation.

“Yesterday, I went for a bike ride, and, you know, felt great and very, very happy and relieved to have had this done,” Woodard said.

Doctors say people with heart disease or any underlying health conditions need to be extra careful guarding against being exposed to COVID-19 because the virus can be especially dangerous for them.

Stephanie Stahl