According to a study in October’s issue of Health Services Research, hospitals that experienced a data breach had an increase in death rates among heart attack patients that lasted for years after the cyber attack.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University studied over 3,000 Medicare certified hospitals and found that about 10% of them had experienced a data breach or a ransomware attack. Research showed that as many as 36 additional deaths per 10,000 heart attacks occurred annually at the hospitals that were examined.

The cause of the uptick in additional deaths are linked to the 2.7 additional minutes that it took for patients experiencing heart attack symptoms to receive an electrocardiogram. This additional two-plus minute lag lasted up to four years after the original breach took place and is connected to the 30-day mortality rates of heart attack patients.

This additional time is directly linked to the breach remediation that caused a lack of timeliness of care and patient outcomes. Health care systems are slow to adjust to their cybersecurity after an attack and that lost time falls on the patient.

In 2019, health care entities that have been affected by data breaches and cyber attacks have risen 20% since 2018. These attacks have involved the medical records of over 38 million health care customers, the largest number affected since 2015.