NEW BRUNSWICK (AP) — Rutgers University researchers say there was a spike in heart attacks and strokes in the New Jersey counties hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy.

Damage from Superstorm Sandy in Point Pleasant (Dennis Malloy, Townsquare Media NJ)

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School compared heart attacks and strokes and the deaths they caused in the two weeks after the storm with the same period in five previous years.

Researchers found a 22 percent increase in heart attacks and a 31 percent higher death rate for those patients within a month of being stricken.

The study says roadblocks may have caused delays in treatment and evacuations may also have caused people to skip taking medicine and alter diets.

Study lead author Joel Swerdel tells The Record that knowing the likely effects of such a weather disaster can help hospitals prepare for the next one.

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