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World Trade Center: Early First Responders Have Increased Risk of Heart Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rachel Zeig-Owens, Dr.P.H., MPH FDNY  Research Assistant Professor Albert Einstein Medical Center

Dr. Zeig-Owens

Rachel Zeig-Owens, Dr.P.H., MPH
Research Assistant Professor
Albert Einstein Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: We found that the most exposed members, those who arrived first at the World Trade Center (WTC ) site—when the air-borne dust was thickest—have a 44% increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those who arrived later in the day. This is a level risk that was similar to other known risk factors for CVD. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The main take away from this work is that nearly two decades later the health effects related to the World Trade Center disaster are still real. This means continued monitoring and health care for those exposed to the disaster is needed. While we cannot remove the WTC exposure, we can help prevent the rescue/recovery workers from developing CVD by screening for and treating the other know risk factors such as high cholesterol.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Others have found an association between post traumatic stress disorder and CVD among those exposed to the World Trade Center disaster. We did not find as strong of an association. Future research should educate this difference.

No disclosures


Cohen HW, Zeig-Owens R, Joe C, et al. Long-term Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among Firefighters After the World Trade Center Disaster. JAMA Netw Open. Published online September 06, 20192(9):e199775. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.9775



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Last Updated on September 7, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD