Study Finds Ground Zero First Responders Face Heart RisksNov 21, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
Evidence continues to mount regarding the health problems faced by Ground Zero first responders. According to a new study from Mount Sinai Medical Center, rescue workers who responded within the first two days of the 9/11 terrorist attacks may be at higher risk of suffering atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
The new study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida, was conducted by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine who have been studying cardiovascular health in Ground Zero first responders since 2007. It is the first to use MRI imaging evaluate cardiovascular risk in World Trade Center first responders.
According to a press release issued by the Mount Sinai Medical Center, MRIs of blood vessels of 31 responders found that 19 workers who were exposed to the initial dust cloud had higher blood vessel formation in their artery plaque compared to 12 people with lower exposure. The study also demonstrated impaired vascular reactivity, or dysfunction of the inner lining of blood vessels, in those with higher dust exposure. This dysfunction may accelerate the progression of atherosclerosis. The Mount Sinai team discovered this association in Ground Zero workers independent of other clinical factors.
According to a report from Bloomberg News, the 31 people involved in the study were relatively young and healthy, with an average age of about 46, which makes the findings even more disturbing.
The study was conducted through Mount Sinai Medical Center’s WTC Clinical Center of Excellence at Mount Sinai. The program identifies mental and physical health problems needing timely treatment; evaluates the health of first responders; monitors the development of symptoms; and researches the effects of 9/11 through data collection and analysis. Located at Mount Sinai and several other clinics in the tri-state area, the Clinical Centers of Excellence and Data Centers are the result of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides $4.3 billion in federal funding to serve the health needs of Ground Zero rescue and recovery workers.