- Your Heart
- Ask Dr. T
- Heart Healthy Living
- About Us
- Contact Us
Heart disease in Firefighters
Are firefighters at a special risk for heart disease?
Yesterday I asked an old friend of mine, the retired Deputy Chief of the Portland, ME Fire department, to comment on the article about heart disease in Firefighters.
I was curious to hear his opinion, in particular in regards to changes that have occurred since 1999. Meanwhile, I reviewed data about Fire incidence:
I. Improved Fire protection and prevention standards have resulted in a steady decline in fires in the US:
II. As a result, Fire departments around the US have switched a large portion of their work to EMT services.
Nationwide Fire Department Provision of Emergency Medical Service, 2005-2007 Annual Averages:
- EMS services 44%
- EMS service and advanced life support, 15%
- No EMS services, 41%
Nonetheless, as this has not yet resulted in a decline in cardiac deaths, we reviewed what factors in his opinion may continue to play a role. This is what resulted from that conversation:
- Stress (as emphasized in my slide about Alarms and heart rates)
- While the “Air packs” theoretically provide up to an hour of Oxygen, a firefighter, with 40 lbs of equipment, who has just run up 6 flights of stairs may well use up the supply in much less time than an hour
- The “macho effect” certainly plays a role in the kind of person attracted to this profession and may lessen the use of air packs to a minimum
Improved survival from heart disease may well become noticeable in the next 10 years, when the switch to EMT services has had a chance to influence the survival statistics. Will combining EMT services with Firefighting prove equally hazardous to the Heart Health of Firefighters?
Time will tell. Please let me know what you think,
Ask Doctor T. Blog
My mother has been lately suffering from a unique BP ailment. She had a blackout recently in which she was semi-conscious. Since then we have been monitoring her BP and have found that her systolic BP hovers around 140-150 while her diastolic level oscillates between 60-70. Yesterday night the upper one was 139 but the lower one dropped to 45 so I fed her some salty...