With a magnitude 5.4 quake hitting Pohang in North Gyeongsang Province Wednesday, experts call for paying special attention to the complications of patients with chronic illnesses other than fractures and trauma.
The Seoul National University Hospital’s public health medical service team said Friday that it had investigated cases and studies in Japan and the United States’ healthcare after the occurrence of disasters such as earthquakes, something the nation also needs badly.
In Japan, there was a marked increase in myocardial infarction and strokes after a disaster. In the 1995 Hanshin earthquake, acute myocardial infarction increased by 57 percent and strokes by 33 percent. Also, within a radius of 50 kilometers after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, the incidence of acute myocardial infarction increased by 34 percent and strokes by 42 percent.
Professor Kim Kyong-hyeong김계형 of the Department of Family Medicine reported that the 1995 Hanshin earthquake increased systolic blood pressure by 11mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 6mmHg in patients with hypertension living within a radius of 50 kilometers.
Mental symptoms may occur over time, which includes anxiety, insomnia, severe acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and alcoholism.
Researchers have warned that smokers, hypertension, and diabetes patients should pay particular attention to myocardial infarction and high risk of stroke.
In the United States, 90 percent of the 40 districts in the affected area of the coastal Mid-Atlantic States were closed or relocated during hurricane “Sandy” in 2012. In this case, a disaster could also affect medical institutions, so chronically ill patients must buy their medication beforehand.
"There are also people who overeat because of earthquakes and the aftershocks,” said Professor Sohn Jee-hoon손지훈 of the Department of Mental Health. Drinking should be avoided, however, because it can delay responses in the event of an aftershock and may cause a variety of mental and physical illnesses, he warned.
"If you have any of these symptoms, it is best to get an early consultation," Sohn added.
<© Korea Biomedical Review, All rights reserved.>