Incidence of acute myocardial infarction and hurricane Katrina: Fourteen years after the storm

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Progress in cardiovascular diseases


INTRODUCTION: Historically, natural disasters have been known to have an effect on humankind including physical and mental health. Studies dating from the early nineteen hundreds have shown repeated associations between different catastrophic natural disasters and its effects on cardiovascular (CV)health, including increased morbidity and mortality. Knowing that these effects on CV health last sometimes up to a decade, we sought to study the effects of hurricane Katrina on incidence of acute myocardial infarctions (AMI) to see if the effects perpetuated and continued or mitigated after the first decade.

METHODS: Ours is a single center, retrospective observational study at TUHSC to compare the incidence of AMI, chronobiology and other demographic characteristics between the 2-year pre-Katrina and 14-year post-Katrina group. After IRB approval, patients were identified using specific ICD 9 and 10 codes. Data was collected by chart review and stored in secure password protected files. Descriptive statistics including mean, standard deviation and percentages were calculated. Statistical analysis comparing mean and standard deviations were performed using Chi-square test and t-test.

RESULTS: The pre-Katrina cohort saw a 0.7% incidence of AMI, whereas the post-Katrina cohort saw 3.0% incidence of AMI (p < 0.001). The post- Katrina group was also noted to have significantly higher comorbidities including diabetes, hypertension, polysubstance abuse and coronary artery disease.

CONCLUSIONS: Even 14 years after the storm, there was a four-fold increase in the incidence of AMI. Additionally, psychosocial, behavioral and traditional risk factors for CAD were significantly higher more than a decade after the natural disaster as well.

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ePub ahead of print