Is exposure to world trade center disaster associated with cardiovascular disease risk for NY firefighters

September 06, 2019

Bottom Line: A study of nearly 9,800 Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) male firefighters suggests an association between greater exposure to the World Trade Center disaster and long-term cardiovascular disease risk, while the results of other studies have been mixed. This study used two measures of exposure to the World Trade Center disaster (arrival time and work duration at the site) to examine the primary outcome of long-term risk of cardiovascular disease, which included heart attack, stroke, unstable angina, coronary artery surgery or angioplasty, or death from cardiovascular disease. Study authors report 489 primary outcomes among the 9,796 male firefighters in more than 16 years of follow-up. Both acute exposure (arriving at the site on the morning of the 9/11 attacks) and repeated exposure during six or more months of work at the site appear to be associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared with those firefighters who arrived later and worked for less time at the site. The associations were statistically significant after accounting for well-established risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Limitations of the study include that the risk of long-term cardiovascular disease in these firefighters could be attributed to their stressful jobs and exposure to smoke and dust in subsequent fires. The authors suggest the findings reinforce the importance of long-term health monitoring for survivors of disasters like the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Authors: Rachel Zeig-Owens, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., and David J. Prezant, M.D., of the Fire Department of the City of New York, and coauthors

(doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.9775)

Editor's Note: The article contains conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
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Media advisory: To contact corresponding author Rachel Zeig-Owens, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., email Frank Gribbon at Francis.Gribbon@fdny.nyc.gov">Francis.Gribbon@fdny.nyc.gov. The full study is linked to this news release.

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About JAMA Network Open: JAMA Network Open is the new online-only open access general medical journal from the JAMA Network. Every Wednesday and Friday, the journal publishes peer-reviewed clinical research and commentary in more than 40 medical and health subject areas. Every article is free online from the day of publication.

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