Gastroesophageal Reflux Symptoms Tied to 9/11 Exposure

Presence of comorbid asthma, PTSD among those exposed to 9/11 attacks increases incidence of GERS

THURSDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- For individuals who were exposed to the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC), the incidence of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms (GERS) is higher in those with asthma or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and highest in those in whom both comorbidities are present, according to a study published online Sept. 6 in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Jiehui Li, M.B.B.S., from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and colleagues investigated the associations between new-onset GERS since 9/11 and its subsequent persistence five to six years later in 37,118 WTC Health Registry adult enrollees who reported no pre-9/11 GERS. The associations with asthma and PTSD were also studied.

The investigators found that the cumulative incidence of post-9/11 GERS and persistent GERS was 20 and 13 percent, respectively. Individuals with PTSD (24 percent), asthma (13 percent), or both (36 percent) had persistent GERS more often than those who had neither condition (8 percent). Among individuals with neither PTSD nor asthma, a higher risk for persistent GERS occurred in workers who arrived at the WTC site on 9/11 (adjusted risk ratio [aRR], 1.6) and who worked at the WTC site for more than 90 days (aRR, 1.6), residents who were exposed to dust on 9/11 (aRR, 1.5), those who did not evacuate their homes (aRR, 1.7), and area workers exposed to the intense dust cloud (aRR, 1.5).

"We found the incidence of post-9/11 GERS to be higher in individuals with asthma or PTSD than in those without either condition," the authors write.

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