New research indicates that the World Trade Center collapse has caused potentially dangerous heart problems in responders on-site.
Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine conducted the analyses of 1,236 WTC workers.
Their study showed that responders have impaired diastolic function of both the right and left ventricle, meaning their hearts do not relax normally, which can put them at risk for heart problems such as shortness of breath and heart failure.
More than 50 percent had abnormal relaxation of the left ventricle compared to only seven percent of people of a similar age in the general population. Greater than 60 percent had isolated impaired diastolic function in the right ventricle of the heart, which pumps blood to the lungs.
Croft and her colleagues suspect that debris inhaled from the WTC site may have contributed to these heart abnormalities, however, caution that there is no comparison data of people working in a similar urban community plagued by air pollution and life and emotional stresses who were not exposed to the WTC.
"We know that inhaled debris may be linked to heart and lung disease. While we still have work to do in determining a definitive connection between heart abnormalities and the World Trade Center collapse, these data are an exciting first step," researcher Lori Croft said.
The findings are being presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) 59th annual scientific session (ACC.10) in Atlanta.