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"This is not as clear as say Sept. 11," a specific date, she said. The health effects of bad financial news may emerge over weeks rather than on a single day, so she averaged heart attacks over three months, taking into account a period before and after each one, and compared these with the Nasdaq composite index.
"We felt the Nasdaq was most appropriate for the mainstream because it reflects small businesses" and therefore would have the most impact on the general public, Fiuzat said.
As stock market values decreased, the incidence of heart attacks rose; the reverse also was true, she found.
The trend did not hold up when adjusted for seasons of the year. However, the study's small size, at a single hospital, may not give enough information to answer the question, some researchers said.
McClurken also questioned how much impact winter in a place like North Carolina would have on heart attack rates.
"Do they really have that much harsh seasonality in that area?" he said. This winter, yes, but not usually, he said.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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