American Heart Association
American Heart Association
November 21, 2011
1 min read

Exposure to particulate matter raises CVD risk in ‘Ground Zero’ workers

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AHA Scientific Sessions 2011

ORLANDO, Fla. — High levels of exposure to particulate matter appeared to worsen the atherogenic profiles of workers who entered the initial dust cloud at “Ground Zero” after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to research presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2011.

“Exposure to particulate matter is associated with adverse health effects leading to increased morbidity,” researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York wrote in an abstract. “Law enforcement workers were exposed to high levels of particulate pollution after working at Ground Zero and may exhibit accelerated atherosclerosis.”

Researchers used peripheral arterial tonometry and dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI to evaluate the atherosclerosis profiles of 31 workers with high or low exposure to particulate matter at Ground Zero. They defined high exposure as working at the site within 2 days after the attacks and low exposure as working at the site after Sept. 13, 2001. The researchers also obtained demographic, biomarker and ankle brachial index measurements from all participants and determined independent predictors of increased area under curve from dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI using all variables.

Those with high exposure to particulate matter had lower peripheral arterial tonometry values, indicating worse endothelial dysfunction vs. those with low exposure (1.7 vs. 1.94; P=.038). Researchers also observed higher dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI area under the curve uptake, suggesting increased neovascularization, in the high-exposure group when compared with the low-exposure group (2.65 vs. 1.88; P=.016). No significant differences in demographic and biomarker parameters were found between high and low exposure levels; however, there was a difference in ankle brachial index measurements of the right leg. Increased neovascularization was also associated with high exposure to particulate matter, a CRP level of more than 3 mg/L and total cholesterol, according to regression model results (P<.026).

“High exposure to particulate matter decreases endothelial function, increases plaque neovascularization and thereby worsens the atherogenic profile of Ground Zero workers,” the researchers wrote.

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Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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