While heart disease is still a rampant health issue across North America, certain studies have shown that others may be at higher risks than others. One group in particular, the first emergency responders to the September 11th attacks in New York, have now been shown to be at increased risk of heart disease, even with common preventive measures in place. Cardiovascular treatments are available for a variety of heart conditions, however, many of those who spent more time at Ground Zero has continued to show more signs of long-term heart disease.
Recent Studies Reveal Connection
In a recent study, researchers detailed their findings when analyzing the long-term cardiovascular health of those in the area immediately following the attacks on 9/11, as well as those who remained in at Ground Zero for extended periods of time. While a direct connection has yet to be scientifically proven, researchers did state that there was a significant connection between increased rates of heart disease and time spent at Ground Zero.
Connections have already previously been made regarding other long-term health conditions. Those who were first to respond at Ground Zero have been shown to have increased rates of trauma-related issues, respiratory problems, and even cancer. Around 10% of the world’s population, some 650 million people, live with a disability; however, the rates of first responders are higher than this average.
Struggles For Survivors
While many cardiovascular treatments exist for the variety of cardiovascular diseases developing among first responders, there are often issues surrounding access or quality of treatment. Some treatments have been around for decades with little adjustment; Gibbon developed the cardiopulmonary bypass in 1953. Additionally, due to disability or overall struggles with finding employment, many first responders to 9/11 struggle to afford the medical care they need as a result of being at Ground Zero. The James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act does provide financial assistance for certain conditions. However, many of the health issues recently linked to presence at Ground Zero, including cardiovascular disease, are not currently on that list.
How To Help Heart Health
As it stands, one of the best ways that first responders can reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease is through standard preventive measures. Examples include remaining as active as possible and regularly participating in cardiovascular exercise. For example, many sports encourage cardiovascular health and can be done as a pastime. Playing tennis for fun can burn around 169 calories in 30 minutes for a woman, and 208 calories in 30 minutes for an average man. Additionally, keeping weight at a healthy level can help prevent heart disease from developing or progressing further. Losing 5% to 10% of your weight is proven to lower your chance of developing heart disease. However, these are strategies typically designed to help those with a standard risk of heart disease – those who were at Ground Zero on 9/11 may require additional intervention and preventive measures, if possible.
While correlation does not necessarily mean causation, this is far from the first study to reveal increased rates of long-term illness in those who were first to respond at Ground Zero. Hopefully, more chronic conditions, such as heart disease, will be added to programs designed to financially assist first responders and their families. Still, it remains to be seen what will be done in light of these new findings to help 9/11’s first responders.