Research led by Dr. Alfredo Morabia, professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and City University of New York, and recently published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal, found that PTSD may increase the long-term risk for stroke and heart attack in blue-collar clean-up crews who worked in the aftermath of The World Trade Center plane attack on September 11, 2001. The study included 6,841 non-firefighter workers and untrained volunteers and others who were engaged in the cleanup, recovery, service restoration and other tasks in the months following the attack.
Dr. Morabia and colleagues found that prevalence of PTSD was about 20 percent among men and 26 percent among women — at least twice that of the general population. Incidence of heart attack or stroke was 2.35 times higher for those with PTSD.
This was the first study that examined the impact of PTSD on heart disease in people 11 to 15 years after the occurrence of a major traumatic event as they entered the age group at which heart disease risk and events rise dramatically.