"Firefighters Who Arrived Early, Spent More Time at Ground Zero on 9/11 Have Higher Risk of Developing Heart Problems"
Firefighters who arrived early or spent more time at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks seem to have a modestly higher risk of developing heart problems than those who came later or stayed less, according to new research. The study tracked the health of 9,796 male firefighters through 2017 — 16 years after the collapse of the twin towers exposed many to a cloud of thick dust and particles from fires that burned for days. Researchers documented 489 heart problems since the disaster, including 120 heart attacks and roughly 300 procedures or surgeries for clogged arteries. Risks were higher among the 1,600 firefighters who arrived at the site by noon on Sept. 11, 2001, and among the 2,400 who worked there during six months or more. Mary Ann McLaughlin, MD, associate professor of medicine and cardiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai who was not involved in the study said, “This study is unique in the fact that the subjects are healthy workers.” She added, “There is a period of latency from exposure to disease, and we’ve known that about cancer for years, and now we’re seeing it in cardiovascular disease as well.”
— Mary A. McLaughlin, MD, Associate Professor, Medicine, Cardiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai