A preliminary study by North Carolina's Duke University Medical Center has said that doctors have found a relation between stock market fluctuations and heart attack frequency.
"In analyzing our local patient population... during the recent period of increased volatility in the stock market, we found that when stock market values decreased, heart attacks seemed to increase, and then decreased when stock trends improved," said the study's lead investigator Mona Fiuzat on Saturday.
The results of the research were presented at the American College of Cardiology?s 59th annual scientific conference held this weekend in Atlanta.
"While more and larger studies are needed to examine the reason for these findings, it?s important for healthcare providers to be aware of social stressors that may potentially affect their patients," Fiuzat said.
The study focused on patients registered at the Duke Hospital Catheterization Lab between January 2006 and July 2009, using data from the Duke Databank for Cardiovascular Disease.
It included patients who suffered a heart attack within three days prior to undergoing a heart procedure.
Data was then plotted against the stock market daily values during the same period of time.
Researchers said that while earlier studies showed a link between traumatic events such as the September 11, 2001 attacks and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and an increased risk of "cardiac events," there was limited data on the impact of financial markets.
"These results appear to be consistent with studies looking at other environmental stressors and their impact on cardiovascular events," said Fiuzat.
She concluded that "learning stress management strategies may be beneficial, especially for people with or at high risk of heart disease."