Rescue/recovery workers who were highly exposed to the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster and people who developed WTC-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be hospitalized more often for cardiovascular disease, according to a new study from the WTC Health Registry published by the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers linked data for 46,346 Registry enrollees living in New York State to a state hospital-discharge reporting system that records medical diagnoses. They found 1,151 heart disease (including hardening of the arteries and heart attack) and 284 stroke-related hospitalizations occurring in 2003-2010. Male rescue/recovery workers with high levels of WTC exposure were at 82% higher risk for heart disease hospitalization compared to those with low levels of exposure; women who had PTSD symptoms when they enrolled in the Registry faced a 32% higher risk compared to women without PTSD symptoms. Men with PTSD at enrollment were at a 53% higher risk of hospitalization due to stroke compared with men without PTSD.
Two earlier Registry studies based on self-reported cardiovascular disease diagnoses suggested a similar association. The Registry’s first mortality analysis also found an increase in heart-disease related mortality among lower Manhattan residents, area workers and passers-by with higher levels of WTC exposure.