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Hurricanes & Heart Attacks

November 16, 2016

Did Hurricane Katrina increase heart attacks in New Orleans?



Hurricanes and heart attacks. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The massive flooding and displacement caused by Hurricane Katrina was devastating for the residents of New Orleans, but the natural disaster also had long-term impacts on their health. Tulane University School of Medicine cardiologist Anand Irimpen says chronic stress is likely to blame for a three-fold increase in hospital heart attack admissions in the decade immediately following the hurricane.

ANAND IRIMPEN (Tulane University School of Medicine):

Besides that, we found a higher incidence of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking in the patients with heart attacks post-Katrina. And people were probably prioritizing rebuilding their homes than their health.


Irimpen says understanding the relationship between natural disasters and health could help local communities and governments prepare for future events. He reported the research at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard