Objective: To determine the prolonged effect of Hurricane Katrina on the incidence and timing of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in the city of New Orleans.
Patients and methods: Our study population consisted of 1476 patients with AMI before (August 29, 1999, to August 28, 2005) and after (February 14, 2006, to February 13, 2012) Hurricane Katrina at Tulane University Health Sciences Center to determine post-Katrina alterations in the occurrence and timing of AMI.
Results: Compared with pre-Katrina values, there was a more than 3-fold increase in the percentage of admissions for AMI during the 6 years after Hurricane Katrina (P<.001). The percentage of admissions for AMI after Hurricane Katrina increased significantly on nights (P<.001) and weekends (P<.001) and decreased significantly on mornings (P<.001), Mondays (P<.001), and weekdays (P<.001). Patients with AMI after Hurricane Katrina also had significantly higher rates of psychiatric comorbidities (P=.01), smoking (P<.001), lack of health insurance (P<.05), and unemployment (P<.001).
Conclusion: These results indicate that the effect of natural disasters on the occurrence of AMI may persist for at least a 6-year period and may be related to various factors including population shifts, alterations in the health care system, and the effects of chronic stress and associated behaviors.
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