Air Today . . . Gone Tomorrow Article

CDC Reports Increase in Asthma Severity After 9/11
Reuters Health, September 5, 2002
SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2002;51:781-784.

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In the two months following the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC), some Manhattan residents with asthma--especially those who were particularly traumatized by the event--reported that their asthma worsened. The findings were released Thursday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( news - web sites)'s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
    In the 5 to 9 weeks following the terrorist attacks, the New York Academy of Medicine conducted telephone interviews with 1,008 adults living south of 110th Street in Manhattan.
    Among the 13% of respondents with asthma, 27% reported experiencing "more severe" asthma symptoms after September 11 than in the 4 weeks before that date, Dr. Joanne Fagan, a consultant to the New York Academy of Medicine, and colleagues report.
    In a telebriefing with reporters Thursday, NYC-based environmental diseases expert Dr. Thomas Matte noted that asthma attacks "usually increase in the fall--so some increase was not unexpected. However, asthmatics that reported difficulty breathing due to smoke and debris during the attacks were more likely to report that their asthma was more severe in the weeks since September 11th than prior to September 11th."
    People with asthma who reported a panic attack, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after September 11th were also more likely to report an increase in asthma severity. "The results suggest that both environmental and psychological consequences of the attacks were related to an increase in symptoms reported last fall by some Manhattan adults with asthma," Matte said. "These findings are consistent with what we know about asthma triggers," he added.
    He said patients with asthma and their physicians "should be aware that the environmental and psychological effects of disasters might worsen asthma symptoms.


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