New York: People who were exposed to a massive dust cloud of air pollution at Ground Zero when the 9/11 twin terror attacks took place are at an increased risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Researchers from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai here have linked high levels of exposure to inhaled particulate matter by first responders at Ground Zero to these conditions that may impact cardiovascular health.
“Our study shows high exposure to the massive dust cloud of air pollution at Ground Zero has increased the risk among first responders of both obstructive sleep apnea and PTSD,” added cardiologist Mary Ann McLaughlin, principal investigator for the WTC-CHEST Programme at Mount Sinai.
As a result, this puts our 9/11 first responders at higher risk of developing heart disease, she added.
First responders at Ground Zero were exposed to varying levels of a dust cloud of air filled with cement dust, smoke, glass fibers, and heavy metals.
The WTC-CHEST Programme at Mount Sinai has previously linked this particulate matter exposure to lung, heart and kidney disease abnormalities.
Now the research team's studies found further research evidence linking sleep apnea and PTSD to exposure of the 9/11 particulate matter.
Researchers studied the more than 800 participants between January 2011 to September 2013 with varying exposure to particulate matter.
“Elevated exposure to the particulate matter from 9/11 caused upper airway inflammation and is a significant contributing factor to the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea,” McLaughlin noted.
In addition, researchers linked particulate matter inhalation to the high risk of PTSD.
They found that those responders with PTSD also had elevated biomarkers for increased cardiovascular disease risk including high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) - a key biomarker of inflammation indicative of increased cardiovascular risk.
Those WTC responders with PTSD had significantly higher hsCRP levels.
“We plan to further closely monitor our WTC first responders for heart disease warning signs,” the researchers added during their presentation at the American Heart Association's scientific session in San Francisco, California, March 20.