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Factors Associated with Poor Control of 9/11-related Asthma

Posted on by Hannah Jordan, MD, MPH

 

Many people who were exposed to dust and fumes during the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks developed asthma. Although asthma is a chronic illness, symptoms can be prevented with medications and avoidance of triggers. However, many factors, including co-existing medical conditions, can make it difficult to keep asthma symptoms under control.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s World Trade Center Health Registry (the Registry) follows the health of over 71,000 people who were exposed following the September 11, 2001 (9/11) World Trade Center terrorist attacks and are enrolled in the Registry. The Registry conducted a study to see if enrollees who were diagnosed with asthma in the first few years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks continued to have symptoms a decade later. This is important because persistent asthma symptoms can cause substantial stress and make it difficult to do routine tasks. The study sought to identify groups of Registry enrollees who might benefit from special efforts to improve control of their asthma symptoms.

The study[i], published in the Journal of Asthma, included approximately 2,500 enrollees who were diagnosed with asthma between September 12, 2001 and December 31, 2003. The Registry found that, in 2011-2012, about two-thirds of the 2,500 study participants reported continued asthma symptoms that interfered with their usual activities. The factors that were most closely tied to severe, persistent asthma symptoms were co-existing mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Co-existing gastroesophageal reflux and obstructive sleep apnea were also associated with worse asthma symptoms.

These study results show that, approximately ten years after 9/11, many people who developed asthma after exposure to the 9/11 attacks continued to experience symptoms that could be treated or even prevented. People with both asthma and PTSD may benefit from targeted efforts to prevent or minimize asthma symptoms. Study findings also emphasize the importance of integrating care for both mental and physical health conditions.

This research was funded by NIOSH.   For more 9/11 research findings, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/wtc/html/studies/bibliography.shtml.

 

Hannah Jordan, MD, MPH

Dr. Jordan is the Deputy Medical Director of the World Trade Center Health Registry in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

 

[i] Jordan H, Stellman S, Reibman J, Farfel M, Brackbill R, Friedman S, Li J, Cone J. Factors associated with poor control of 9/11-related asthma 10–11 years after the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks. J Asthma 2015; 52:630-637.

 

Posted on by Hannah Jordan, MD, MPH

6 comments on “Factors Associated with Poor Control of 9/11-related Asthma”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Is COPD the same as having asthma? I have COPD, mental health conditions, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), gastroesophageal reflux and obstructive sleep apnea.
    Is this another condition I should claim separate in addition to COPD with the VCF?

    Although Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma can have many of the same symptoms, COPD and asthma are different conditions.

    For questions about submitting a claim with the VCF, we recommend that you contact them directly at 1-855-885-1555, or via their website, http://www.vcf.gov.

    I lived just a few block blocks from ground zero during the 911 attack, and I am as healthy as can be. I had to evacuate my apartment on west side highway due to the dust and nasty quality of the air within the entire area. Within one month after the attack, I move down south the Marietta Georgia and never exhibited any asthmatic symptoms.

    Initially, I had coughing problems which eventually went away as I changed the quality of the air I breathed in on a daily basis. I found relevant help reading this article at huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/24/asthma-overmedicated-_n_4847071.html, and another one about the merits of using Himalayan rock salt lamps at atcemsce.org/best-himalayan-salt-lamp/. The key to controlling or eliminating asthmatic conditions if by changing the quality of both you indoor and outdoor air.

    You can medicate all you want, but unless you take the right steps to reduce the factors responsible for prolonging the asthma, your symptoms would get worst.

    In addition to my COPD I have just recently been officially diagnosed with asthma. One thing after another. Wish I had worn a respirator when they said it was okay to breath the air down at ground zero.

    I had childhood asthma and then for some reason it went away. Then after 911 I worked there as a police officer, it came back slowly with an attack here and there. However, just recently it has gotten to the point where I have an attack almost every day. This is 16 years after the fact. Not sure if it can be related or not. I really haven’t changed my lifestyle at all.

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