Chronic Physical Health Consequences of Being Injured During the Terrorist Attacks on World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

Brackbill, Robert M.; Cone, James E.; Farfel, Mark R.; Stellman, Steven D.

Few studies have focused on injuries from the World Trade Center disaster on September 11, 2001. Severe injury has health consequences, including an increased mortality risk 10 years after injury and the risk of mental health problems, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The World Trade Center Health Registry identified 14,087 persons with none of a selected group of preexisting chronic conditions before 2002 who were present during and soon after the World Trade Center attacks, 1,980 of whom reported sustaining 1 or more types of injury (e.g., a broken bone or burn). Survey data obtained during 2003−2004 and 2006−2007 were used to assess the odds of reporting a diagnosis of chronic conditions (heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, cancer) up to 5–6 years after the attacks. Number of injury types and probable PTSD were significantly associated with having any chronic conditions diagnosed in 2002–2007. Persons with multiple injuries and PTSD had a 3-fold higher risk of heart disease than did those with no injury and no PTSD, and persons with multiple injuries and with no PTSD had a 2-fold higher risk of respiratory diseases. The present study shows that injured persons with or without comorbid PTSD have a higher risk of developing chronic diseases. Clinicians should be aware of the heightened risk of chronic heart and respiratory conditions among injured persons.


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American Journal of Epidemiology

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May 9, 2014