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Earthquakes Put Millions of Lives, Major Cities at Risk
Date:11/3/2011

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  • Bruises or sprains (6 percent)
  • Crush injuries (3 percent to 20 percent)
  • Earthquakes could also trigger heart attacks. The report revealed heart attacks rose by 35 percent in the week following the 1994 earthquake in Northridge, Calif. Similar surges were reported in other places, such as Taiwan. An increase in arrhythmias and cases of high blood pressure were also recorded following this type of natural disaster.

    Earthquakes can also harm the health of people who are displaced from their homes, according to the report. Overcrowded shelters can lead to epidemics of infectious diseases. Bodies, however, generally do not play a major role in the spread of disease, the researchers noted.

    Mental health issues, particularly depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, also increase in the wake of major earthquakes.

    Children are often at higher risk of injury and death than are adults during earthquakes, the researchers said. The elderly are also more likely to be adversely affected, since they may not be able to respond as quickly or may be unwilling to evacuate their homes.

    More information

    The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency provides more information on earthquakes.

    -- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

    SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Nov. 3, 2011


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