Heart disease among adults exposed to the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center disaster: results from the World Trade Center Health Registry

Prev Med. 2011 Dec;53(6):370-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.10.014. Epub 2011 Oct 28.


Objective: To examine associations between 9/11-related exposures, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and subsequent development of heart disease (HD).

Methods: We prospectively followed 39,324 WTC Health Registry participants aged ≥18 on 9/11 for an average of 2.9 years. HD was defined as self-reported physician-diagnosed angina, heart attack, and/or other HD reported between study enrollment (2003-2004) and a follow-up survey (2006-2008) in enrollees without previous HD. A PTSD Checklist (PCL) score ≥44 was considered PTSD. We calculated adjusted hazard ratios (AHR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) to examine relationships between 9/11-related exposures and HD.

Results: We identified 1162 HD cases (381 women, 781 men). In women, intense dust cloud exposure was significantly associated with HD (AHR 1.28, 95% CI 1.02-1.61). Injury on 9/11 was significantly associated with HD in women (AHR 1.46, 95% CI 1.19-1.79) and in men (AHR 1.33, 95% CI 1.15-1.53). Participants with PTSD at enrollment had an elevated HD risk (AHR 1.68, 95% CI 1.33-2.12 in women, AHR 1.62, 95% CI 1.34-1.96 in men). A dose-response relationship was observed between PCL score and HD risk.

Conclusion: This exploratory study suggests that exposure to the WTC dust cloud, injury on 9/11 and 9/11-related PTSD may be risk factors for HD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Emergency Responders
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Registries*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Young Adult