The CVD patient’s guide to Hurricane Michael

In light of Hurricane Michael’s destructive landfall Wednesday in the Florida panhandle, the American Heart Association is warning cardiovascular patients to plan ahead for unexpected emergencies, as they could be at an increased risk for CVD events during the storm.

Michael—the strongest hurricane to hit the continental U.S. since 1992—is expected to make its way across Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia in the coming week. The AHA advised patients in a release this week that such a large-scale natural disaster will likely push stress and trauma levels, leading to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. In patients with pre-existing heart complications or a history of stroke, stress connected to the storm could feel especially intense.

The AHA recommended patients take time to jot down a list of their relevant medical conditions, medications and dosages, pharmacy information and any allergies they might have. Residents are encouraged to protect that list, as well as their physical medications, in a resealable, waterproof bag. 

If medications are lost or damaged in the storm, the AHA said it’s imperative heart patients refill those prescriptions as soon as possible. Rx Open, an interactive online tool that allows patients to find the nearest open pharmacy in a disaster zone, is activated at sites in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and both Carolinas.

Refill laws shift in the case of a natural disaster like Michael. This is how affected states’ regulations change in the wake of a hurricane:

  • In Florida, you can obtain a 30-day refill of prescription meds at any time if you live in a county that’s under a National Weather Service hurricane warning or government-declared state of emergency.

  • In Georgia and South Carolina, you can get a 30-day refill of certain medications in an emergency. To be safe, the AHA recommends contacting your pharmacist to request an off-schedule emergency refill.

  • In North Carolina, you have 29 days after a disaster is announced to obtain one prescription refill or one replacement for a recent prescription.

  • In Mississippi and Alabama, refills are allowed during non-specified emergencies, but patients can only request up to 72 hours’ worth of supplies.

  • In Virginia, there are no laws allowing emergency refills for any amount of time.

The AHA also provides emergency preparedness resources for diabetics who rely on insulin. 

In the case of emergency evacuation, find open pharmacies here and a live map of open Red Cross shelters here.