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Failing stock markets may cause more damage than you would expect, and I’m not just talking about to your portfolio. In fact, researchers at Duke University recently discovered a link between how stock indexes performed and an increased number of heart attacks that were treated at a particular hospital in North Carolina after the recession started in 2007 through July 2009.

Mona Fluzat, a doctor and a research at Duke University piloted the study. She recorded all patients who suffered heart attacks among those that came to the North Carolina hospital for a test for heart disease. Overall, a total of 965 patients came to the hospital during the study period. She then researched economic conditions during the same time period and discovered that health related problems from financial issues took longer to cause a heart attack—about a week or longer—when compared to other triggers, which could cause a heart attack in a single day. After compiling three months of heart attack data, she then compared that with the NASDAQ composite index. Ultimately, she found that the occurrence of heart attacks rose as stock market values decreased.

Naturally, failing stock markets weren’t the only contributing factor to the heart attacks that occurred during the specified time period. For example, researchers suspect that harsher winter conditions can also contribute to heart attacks. Overall, stress is a major contributor to poor heart health. Earlier research has also found links between heart trouble and championship sporting events, earthquakes and other stressful events.

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