High Particulates at 'Ground Zero' Up Atherosclerosis Risk

Among 'Ground Zero' workers, higher particulate exposure worsens atherogenic profile

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Workers at "Ground Zero" who were exposed to high levels of particulate matter (PM) on Sept. 11, 2001, have a higher risk for atherosclerosis than those exposed to lower levels of PM after Sept. 13, 2001, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2011, held from Nov. 12 to 16 in Orlando, Fla.

Venkatesh Mani, Ph.D., from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues examined the differences in atherosclerosis profiles of 31 patients working at "Ground Zero," subjected to high exposure (HE) to PM (initial dust cloud; 19 individuals) and low exposure (LE) to PM (after 9/13/01; 12 participants) using dynamic contrast enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance imaging and peripheral artery tonometry (PAT). Data were collected on demographics, biomarkers (lipid profiles, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), blood pressure) and ankle-brachial index (ABI) measures.

The investigators found that individuals with HE had worse endothelial dysfunction, indicated by significantly lower PAT values (PAT, 1.70 ± 0.23 for HE versus 1.94 ± 0.38 for LE). They also had significantly increased neovascularization, indicated by higher DCE area under the curve (AUC) uptake as compared to patients with LE (AUC, 2.65 ± 0.63 for HE versus 1.88 ± 0.69 for LE). Between the two groups, there was no significant difference in any of the parameters except for ABI of the right leg. There were significant, independent correlations between increased neovascularization and high exposure to PM, CRP >3.0, and total cholesterol, in decreasing order of importance.

"High exposure to PM decreases endothelial function, increases plaque neovascularization and thereby worsens atherogenic profile of 'Ground Zero' workers," the authors write.

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