Firefighters from World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 At Risk for Long-Term Cardiovascular Disease

Published Online: Wednesday, September 11th, 2019
Findings from a recent study suggest a significant association between exposure to the World Trade Center (WTC) during the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001 and long-term cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.

The objective of the study was to assess whether the WTC exposure was associated with elevated CVD risk in Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) firefighters.

9,796 male firefighters were analyzed using Multivariable Cox regression between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2017. This method was used to estimate CVD risk in association with 2 measures of WTC exposure: arrival time to the WTC site and duration of work at the WTC site. Data analyses were conducted from May 1, 2018, to March 8, 2019.

The results concluded that age-adjusted incident rates of CVD were higher for firefighters with greater WTC exposure. Meanwhile, those who worked at the WTC site for six or more months versus those who worked less time at the site were more likely to have a CVD event.

Well-established CVD risk factors, including hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, and smoking, were significantly associated with CVD in the multivariable models. Analyses with the all-CVD outcome were similar.

The findings appear to reinforce the importance of long-term monitoring of the health of survivors of disasters.

Cohen HW, Zeig-Owens R, Joe C, et al. Long-term Cardiovascular Disease risk among firefighters after the world trade center disaster. JAMA. 2019;2(9):e199775. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.9775.

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