Thursday, November 17, 2016

A rising tide of heart attacks followed Hurricane Katrina

Public Release: 15-Nov-2016
A rising tide of heart attacks followed Hurricane Katrina
American Heart Association Meeting Report -- Presentation: T2101 -- Session: QU.APS.P23
American Heart Association

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, hospital admissions for heart attacks in the city were three times higher than they were before the storm, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2016.

"After Hurricane Katrina devastated our city, the cardiology department found that we had very busy on-call nights," said Anand Irimpen, M.D., study lead author and professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine and chief of cardiology at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans, Louisiana. "We were being called into the hospital for heart attacks much more often than during pre-Katrina days. So, I suggested to our cardiology fellows that we study the data to look at this phenomenon objectively to determine whether this was a real increase or only a perception."

Investigators found that hospital admissions to Tulane Medical Center for heart attacks increased three-folds in the 10 years after Katrina (post-Katrina), compared to the two years before the storm in August 2005 (pre-Katrina).

In addition, post-Katrina patients were significantly more likely to have other risk factors for heart attack, including:

coronary artery disease (48 percent compared to 31 percent);

diabetes (40 percent vs 29 percent);

high blood pressure (81 percent vs 74 percent);

high blood levels of cholesterol (59 percent vs 45 percent); and

smoking (54 percent vs 39 percent).


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