You’ve gone down the checklist preparing for the historic flooding that’s expected.
You’ve protected your property and gathered up important papers such as insurance policies. But don’t overlook the toll flooding can take on your health, too. National studies have shown that heart attacks have increased in some areas in the aftermath of major hurricanes and natural disasters.
The stress and trauma after a hurricane or flooding disaster can intensify, which can lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease risk, according to the American Heart Association. In addition, heart disease and stroke patients are even more vulnerable to the effects of a disaster, the AHA says.
Stress is one of many factors that can lead to heart disease or a heart attack, but it also can contribute to factors that increase heart disease risk such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The way some try to handle stress – smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol, overeating – can increase blood pressure and may damage artery walls.
Just like they protect their home and belongings, residents can take steps to limit the damage a natural disaster can have on their stress levels and heart health. Julie Pope, director of heart and vascular services at Tidelands Health, offers these tips to help your body handle the stress of flooding: