Leaders of Stony Brook Medicine’s World Trade Center Health Program have found that “as many as 60 percent of 9/11 World Trade Center responders continue to experience clinically significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and lower respiratory illness,” according to a press release from Stony Brook University. The findings are motivating researchers to more closely examine the relationship of respiratory illness to mental health problems.
Dr. Benjamin Luft, Medical Director of the program, said in the press release that the two conditions so often coexist that they can be thought of as one ailment among WTC responders.
“Now more than 10 years after 9/11, the connection between mental and physical illnesses among responders appears stronger,” said Dr. Luft. “This connection raises important questions about the mechanisms underlying the PTSD and respiratory illness relationship. The next step in our research is to determine how comorbid physical and mental conditions impact the progression of clinical disease and genetic changes in these responders.” The program has five new research projects underway. “Ultimately, the goal is to identify a causal pathway that links the two diseases, in order to identify biomarkers that can be targets for diagnosis and treatment,” stated the press release.
PTSD and Respiratory Illness: A Signature Long-Term Problem of 9/11 Responders (Stony Brook University Press Release on Newswise, September 10, 2014)