Natural Disasters and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

  • Julie Zarifeh
  • Roger MulderEmail author
Reference work entry


Cardiovascular events are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Such events can be triggered by both acute and chronic mental stress caused by a number of known stressors, one of these being natural disasters. Triggering of acute mental stress results in increased sympathetic output, disturbed endothelial function, and the creation of a hypercoagulable state. There is then the potential for vulnerable plaque to be ruptured, resulting in thrombosis, and subsequent myocardial infarction, or even death. Chronic mental stress contributes to the atherosclerotic process through increased allostatic load, and related chronic risk factors.

This chapter summarizes what is known about the relationship between natural disasters and cardiovascular disease. A review of the literature relating cardiovascular risk to natural disasters was undertaken and proposed underlying mechanisms of this relationship examined. The review then examines potential management of cardiovascular risk related to natural disasters, particularly focusing on psychological implications and strategies for management of both individual and population health.


Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) Coronary artery disease (CAD) Cardiopulmonary arrest (CPA) Coronary heart disease (CHD) Cardiovascular disease (CVD) Pulmonary embolism (PE) Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Sympathetic nervous system (SNS) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Consultation-Liaison ServiceChristchurch Public HospitalChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Psychological MedicineUniversity of OtagoChristchurchNew Zealand

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