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Workplace asbestos exposure now linked to heart disease, stroke

We have focused several blogs on the devastation associated with developing mesothelioma and other lung diseases caused by asbestos. The connection between these diseases and asbestos is well known by now. Recent studies are showing, however, that workplace asbestos exposure may also lead to heart disease and stroke.

The study was led by a member of Britain's Health and Safety Laboratory. Between 1971 and 2005, roughly 15,000 people who worked in the British asbestos industry died. Over 4,000 of those workers died of heart disease and over 1,000 suffered a stroke and died.

This number is disproportionately large when compared to the general public. Men working with asbestos, for instance, were shown to be over 60 percent more likely to suffer a fatal stroke and nearly 40 percent likelier to develop fatal heart disease. Women in the asbestos industry were about 100 percent likelier to die of a stroke and almost 90 percent likelier to die from heart disease, as compared to women who did not work with asbestos.

In the study, the men were primarily employed in asbestos removal. The women worked in manufacturing, for the most part. This study has monitored these workers since 1971. Similar studies have not been able to show this connection before because there was little information about whether or not the workers also smoked. With this new study, smoking was taken into account.

The results are troubling. Exposure to asbestos has been known to cause lung disease for several years. The fact that it may also lead to heart disease and stroke only compounds the issues that asbestos workers already face.

Those who suffer from diseases caused by workplace asbestos exposure may want to consider filing a workers' compensation disability claim. Medical bills, lost wages and damages from pain and suffering may be able to be recovered.

Source: Yahoo! News, "Asbestos workers at risk from heart disease," April 2, 2012

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