Study: 9/11 Survivors May Face the Risk of Developing Increased Heart, Lung Diseases Years Later

The monumental terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11 have managed to leave behind scars that are much more than just skin-deep

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The 9/11 attacks. wikimedia
  • A recent study shows that the survivors may be at an increased long-term risk of asthma, other similar respiratory diseases, and heart attack
  • The findings indicate that intense exposure on a single day – the first day of the disaster – contributes substantially to the risk of developing chronic conditions
  • The authors used data from the WTC Health Registry cohort to examine the long term health effects of acute exposure to the dust cloud or physical injury caused by the terrorist attack

Washington, July 18, 2017: The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, have made the accident a historical event, having left behind scars that are much more than just skin-deep. A recent study shows that the survivors may be at an increased long-term risk of asthma, other similar respiratory diseases, and heart attack.

The association between physical injury or acute exposure to the dust cloud on the morning of September 11, 2001, and chronic diseases up to ten to eleven years later (2010-2012) were examined and analyzed by researchers at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

According to the corresponding author Robert Brackbill, the findings indicate that intense exposure on a single day – the first day of the disaster – contributes substantially to the risk of developing chronic conditions. He also mentioned, “Continued monitoring of people who were present in the vicinity of the World Trade Centre on 11th September by medical providers is warranted for the foreseeable future.”

The researchers observed that the number of types of injuries, such as fractures, head injuries, or sprains, a person sustained on 11th September 2001 was associated with an increased risk of angina or heart attack in a dose-dependent manner. This means that the risk of having angina or a heart attack went up with every additional injury type.

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According to ANI, exposure to dust, PTSD and being a rescue worker, as well as current smoking were associated with a higher risk of non-neoplastic lung disease (lung conditions not involving tumors) other than just asthma. Dust exposure, on its own, was associated with an increased risk of asthma. But none of these risk factors were associated with a higher risk of diabetes.

Out of the total number of 8,701 people who were a part of this study, 41% had been intensely exposed to the dust cloud, 10% had a single injury, 2% had two types of injury and 1% had three or more.

In the survey, the researchers also noticed 92 incident cases of heart disease, 327 new cases of diabetes, 308 cases of asthma, and 297 cases of non-neoplastic lung disease among 7,503 area workers, 249 rescue workers, 131 residents and 818 bystanders – the most heavily exposed groups.

The authors used data from the WTC Health Registry cohort to examine the long term health effects of acute exposure to the dust cloud, or physical injury caused by the terrorist attack. The WTC Health Registry is responsible for monitoring the physical and mental health of 71,431 persons exposed to the 9/11 attacks.

In the study, a lack of specific information on the severity, location, and treatment of injuries, as well as on the circumstances in which they were sustained meant that the number of types of injuries was used as a proxy measure of injury severity. However, the authors mentioned that it has been shown by previous researchers that more than one type of injury can be associated with increased risk of death and longer stays in the hospital.

The study has been published in the Injury Epidemiology journal.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter @dubumerang