Study Finds U.S. Presidential Election is Linked to More Heart Attacks and Strokes

Hospitalizations for acute cardiovascular disease (CVD) – like a stroke or heart attack – almost doubled in the two days after the 2016 presidential election, according to a new study.

“This is a wake-up call for every health professional that we need to pay greater attention to the ways in which stress linked to political campaigns, rhetoric and election outcomes can directly harm health,” said David Williams, Professor of Public Health at Harvard Chan School and corresponding author of the study.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, used data collected by Kaiser Permanente Southern California, an integrated health system that provides care to 4.6 million people in the region.

They focused on diagnoses of heart attacks and stroke among adults, as well as emergency department diagnoses for chest pain and unstable angina.

In the two days right after the 2016 presidential election, there were 94 hospitalizations. But when the researchers looked eat the same days of the week during the week before the election there were only 58 total hospitalizations.

In other words, heart attacks and strokes were 1.62 times higher in the two days after the 2016 election than they were the week before. The results were similar across sex, age, and race and ethnicity groups, which the researchers say suggests that sociopolitical stress may trigger CVD events.

“In our diverse patient population that is reflective of Southern California as a whole, we saw that the risk of heart attacks increased after the 2016 election irrespective of sex, age, and racial/ethnic groups,” said the study’s lead researcher, Matthew Mefford of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation.

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SOURCE: Forbes, Misha Gajewski