R. Reese Fuller

Report: Katrina still breaking hearts in New Orleans

by R. Reese Fuller

Hurricane Katrina may still be causing health problems for south Louisiana residents, even causing more heart attacks. In a report that was presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in Orlando, Fla. Sunday, doctors at Tulane University Hospital and Clinic report a threefold increase in the rate of heart attacks since Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The Associated Press reports:
In the two years before Katrina, the researchers found heart attacks accounted for 150 of the 21,229 patients admitted to the downtown hospital. In the two years since the hospital reopened in early 2006, there were 246 heart attacks out of 11,282 patients — a change from about 0.7 percent of admissions to nearly 2.2 percent.

Post-Katrina heart attack patients also were more likely to need surgery or artery-opening procedures and less likely to have jobs or medical insurance than their pre-storm counterparts. They were more likely to smoke or to abuse drugs or alcohol, and less likely to be taking medicine prescribed to ward off strokes or heart attacks.
There are still questions though about the study: Are the heart attacks Katrina-related or are patients who might have gone to one of the other area hospitals still shuttered just finding their way to Tulane?

ABC News also had this recent piece about the subject.