Background: Concern is growing about the negative consequences that response measures to the COVID-19 epidemic may have on the management of other medical conditions. Methods: A retrospective descriptive case-series study conducted at a large University-hospital in northern Italy, an area severely hit by the epidemic. Results: Between 23 February and 14 May 2020, 4160 (52%) COVID-19 and 3778 (48%) non-COVID-19 patients were hospitalized. COVID-19 admissions peaked in the second half of March, a period characterized by an extremely high mortality rate (27.4%). The number of admissions in 2020 was similar to 2019, but COVID-19 patients gradually occupied all available beds. Comparison between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 admissions in 2020 revealed significant differences concerning all age classes and gender. Specifically, COVID-19 patients were older, predominantly male, and exhibited more comorbidities. Overall, admissions for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in 2020 vs. 2019 dropped by approximately one third. Statistically significant reductions were observed for acute myocardial infarction (−78, −33.9%), cerebrovascular disease (−235, −41.5%), and cancer (−368, −31.9%). While the first two appeared equally distributed between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, chronic NCDs were statistically significantly more frequent in the former, except cancer, which was less frequent in COVID-19 patients. Conclusions: Prevention of collateral damage to patients with other diseases should be an integral part of epidemic response plans. Prospective cohort studies are needed to understand the long-term impact.
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