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Tulane Study Indicates Link Between Hurricanes And Heart Attacks

Satellite photo of Hurricane Katrina in 2005
Handout, Getty

How long does a hurricane last? In meteorological terms it might be a week or ten days. In the terms of the people these massive storms affect it could be years or even decades. A study recently released by Tulane University shows an apparent link between Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and an increase in the number of heart attacks.

The study shows that incidents of heart attack jumped almost three times the number reported in the six years after Katrina than in the years before the storm. The study was based on reports of heart attack in and around the New Orleans area.

Senior author on the project  Dr. Anand Irimpen believes there are several key factors in this significant jump in heart attacks,

“There was increased non-compliance with medication, people not taking medication as prescribed, high cholesterol, and increased incidents of smoking and substance abuse among patients.”

Irimpen’s comments were reported by The Louisiana Radio Network in a story first posted on their website March 18. The study also indicated that incidents of heart attack after Katrina appeared to occur more often on weekends and weeknights when victims were at home. These lead researchers to form this hypothesis,

 “Probably because people are exposed to greater stress when the go home to rebuild their homes and put their lives together compared to when they go back to work.”

Data for the study was gathered using reports from Tulane Medical Center in the years preceding and after Katrina. The information in the study will be used to help medical professionals better deal with the treatment and recovery following a similar disaster in the future.

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