With hurricane season well underway, the American Heart Association has updated their disaster resources page and released some tips that physicians should keep in mind when counseling their patients prior to the arrival of a storm.
“Heart disease and stroke patients are even more vulnerable to the effects of a disaster,”1 said the press release. In addition to patients with cardiovascular conditions, these tips are broadly applicable to patients with a wide range of health conditions.
Disaster preparedness health tips:
- Encourage patients to write down all of their medical conditions, including allergies, medications, doses, and times medications should be taken, and the name, address, and telephone number of their pharmacy.
- Patients should request an extra supply of prescribed medication, keeping in mind that the criteria for these prescriptions varies by state.
- Know the symptoms: remind patients that a heart attack is different from cardiac arrest. Encourage patients to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
- Patients should also be aware of the symptoms of stroke, including the FAST pneumonic (face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 911).
- Stress and trauma can be increased during a natural disaster, which increases risks for cardiovascular disease.
- If evacuating, seek out the names and addresses of local hospitals and emergency care clinics.
The Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition has also created a Patient Preparedness Plan2 for patients with diabetes who use insulin. The Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition suggests creating a diabetes kit, stored in an easy-to-carry, waterproof container. Patients should include information on their diabetes diagnosis, a letter from the diabetes care team with a list of the most recent medication information, a copy of the most recent laboratory results, including hemoglobin A1c, and the make, model, and serial number of their insulin pump or continuous glucose monitoring device, if used.
- American Heart Association. Helpful heart health information in preparation for Hurricane Florence [news release]. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. http://newsroom.heart.org/news/helpful-heart-health-information-in-preparation-for-hurricane-florence. Published September 13, 2018. Accessed September 17, 2018.
- Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition. Patient Preparedness Plan. http://main.diabetes.org/dorg/PDFs/emergency-preparedness/DDRCPatientPreparednessPlan2018Short.pdf. 2018. Accessed September 17, 2018.