CHEST 2007: Steroids Helped 9/11 Firefighters

Two years later, treated firefighters had significantly better respiratory symptom scores

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 24 (HealthDay News) -- New York City firefighters who completed a voluntary prophylactic regimen of inhaled corticosteroids immediately after the 2001 collapse of the World Trade Center had reduced respiratory symptoms and an improved quality of life, suggesting that the drugs can prevent respiratory illness, according to research presented this week at CHEST 2007, the 73rd annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians in Chicago.

David Prezant, M.D., chief medical officer and co-director of the New York City Fire Department's World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Programs, and colleagues compared lung function in 158 firefighters who worked at the disaster site and completed four weeks of budesonide treatment with matched-control firefighters who did not receive budesonide.

After two years, the researchers found that the treated firefighters had significantly better respiratory symptom severity scores compared to controls. But they found no significant group differences in airway hyperreactivity or in the decline in rates of forced expiratory volume in one second.

"Respiratory protection is the primary means for preventing lung injury but prophylactic inhaled corticosteroids should be considered after high-risk exposures given ease of use, safety profile and improvement in respiratory symptoms," the authors conclude. "Pre-treatment education must focus on proper use and correcting misperceptions interfering with enrollment/treatment."


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