Study: 9/11 first responders have higher risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack

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A new study finds that those who were first on the scene or worked for months among the ruins of the World Trade Center disaster have an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack.

The study found firefighters who arrived by noon on 9/11 had a 44% greater chance of suffering a heart problem in the years since the attack, compared to firefighters who came hours or days later.

Dr. Evelina Grayver is a cardiologist at North Shore University Hospital. She says the first responders exposure to the airborne dust and fine particles created by the collapse of the Twin Towers is likely wreaking long-term havoc on the health of their blood vessels, heart and other parts of the body.

"Dust equals inflammation response and inflammation equals heart disease, inflammation equals cancer," says Grayver. "It does not really particularly matter cancer of what. Inflammation will cause any type of havoc, whether or not you're exposed to it early on or later on."

Researchers also found those who worked at Ground Zero for 6 months or more have a 33% higher risk of a heart health problem than those who worked fewer months on the scene.

Results of the federally funded study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open.

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