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Changes in heart attack timing continue years after hurricane
Date:3/7/2013

ll, researchers did find a potentially encouraging sign from this latest analysisa slight return of Monday morning heart attacks in a pattern closer to pre-storm events. Before the hurricane, 23 percent of heart attacks occurred on Mondays. This dropped to 10 percent in the three years after the storm and only recently crept up to 16.5 percent, though it is not a statistically significant change.

"It suggests some normalization in employment and work patterns, but generally things still appear to be pretty much in disarray," Dr. Peters said.

He speculates that with so many people forced out of work after Katrina, weekday mornings and Mondays, in particular, became less stressful. In the last two years, the unemployment rate in New Orleans has dropped slightlyfrom 17.9 to 15.2 percent; however, it is still twice the pre-storm unemployment rate of 7 percent. Night and weekend heart attacks may be more likely because day-to-day life at home became more anxiety-ridden with temporary housing, rebuilding homes and financial stressors.

Researchers looked at heart attack trends in a total of 1,044 confirmed heart attack cases; 299 before Katrina, 408 in the three years after Katrina and another 337 in the four and five years after the storm.

Compared to the pre-Katrina group, morning and weekday heart attacks continued to be a significantly smaller portion of total heart attacks in years four and five after the storm (45.2 vs. 30.5 percent and 60.2 vs. 36.3 percent, respectively). Heart attacks occurring over the weekend were nearly twice as likely as before the storm hit (30.6 vs. 16.1 percent of all heart attacks) and night heart attacks remained significantly elevated as well (43.6 vs. 29.8 percent). Compared to the one to three years after the storm, years four and five showed non-significant decreases in morning, weekday and weekend heart attacks and a substantial (but non-significant) reduction in heart attacks at night.

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Contact: Beth Casteel
bcasteel@acc.org
240-328-4549
American College of Cardiology
Source:Eurekalert

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