Disaster Heart Attacks
Reported June 30, 2009
NEW ORLEANS (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Almost four years after Hurricane
Katrina, New Orleans is on the road to recovery. Homes and businesses are
rebuilding, but there's still a long way to go. Now, a new study suggests
that the hurricane may have been as damaging to residents' hearts as it was
to their homes.
For Gerard Guilliot, gutting and rebuilding his flooded out home after
Hurricane Katrina has been a monumental task. More than two years that put
plenty of stress on his heart.
"I thought I was fine until the last couple of heart attacks," Guilliot told
Lawrence Thompson had a heart attack just a few days ago. He, too, believes
Katrina was a factor.
"Well, that could be, you know, because we had a 'lotta problems, you know,"
Thompson told Ivanhoe.
Anand Irimpen, M.D., a cardiologist at Tulane University Medical Center in
New Orleans, says Guilliot and Thompson are part of a continuing trend.
Dr. Irimpen's research found that in the two years after Katrina, heart
attacks in New Orleans increased three-fold compared to pre-Katrina.
"We find that the patients post-Katrina had an increased incidence of
smoking, non-compliance with medications, unemployment," Dr. Irimpen told
The victims also experienced stress. Researchers say, over time, natural
disasters disrupt living arrangements, finances, marriages -- changes that
rank high on the scale of life's most stressful events.
Some experts predict the current financial crisis will have the same effect.
"As a consequence, we're going to have more of these kinds of problems in
terms of myocardial infarcts, sleeping disorders, anxiety, substance abuse,"
Charles Figley, Ph.D., Professor of Disaster Mental Health at Tulane, told
It's a sobering reminder that a disaster can be as damaging to our health as
it is to our homes.
Dr. Irimpen says his research on Katrina victims could be the first to show
that traumatic events can have long-term health effects. Now in its third
year, the Tulane study is continuing to follow the trends in New Orleans to
see when or if the number of post-Katrina heart attacks will start going
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Keith Brannon, Public Relations
New Orleans, LA