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Heart Attacks and Fire Service

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  • Heart Attacks and Fire Service

    First, my condolences go out to fire families in recent past that have lost members. It is truly a tragedy every time. It has also received my full attention. I am almost 34 years old, and have bad hearts in my family (My dad, his brothers, and his dad all had heart attacks). Does firefighting and hereditary heart problems not mix? Am I a ticking time bomb? Is anyone else in this situation and would like to share. This is beginning to weight on my mind too much. Are the numbers of heart attacks among fire fighters high compared to the general public, or are the percentages comparable?

  • #2
    Well, the first thing I'll say is that it will be difficult if not impossible to get anyone in the insurance industry to link heart problems with firefighting. However, if you look at the 13 firefighter deaths to date this year (2001), 7 are confirmed heart attacks. One is still under investigation. The ages range from 33-65 yrs old. That's 54% of our brothers that have died on the job this year have died of heart attacks....and remember, these are only on-duty deaths. Seems to be some connection.

    The reason I responded to this posting is that last year I had a heart attack. I was 41 yrs. old, no previous history, low cholorestoral, good shape and no family history. In other words I didn't fit the profile at all. The good news is that I was with my crew at the time and recognized that something was wrong. I was on O2 immediatly and transported within 15 min of the onset of the pain. In the ER they found a blocked artery and an angioplasty was done. Because of the rapid recognition and transport, I had no tissue damage. 4 weeks of rehab and I was able to return to the best job in the world. I won't go into how this event changed my outlook on life... It would be different for each of you. The message here is that it can happen to anyone. Don't be afraid of the job but don't kid yourself.

    My best advice to you is to take care of your health, good nutrition, exercise and medical check ups. Find joy in everything you do jdm2267 and good luck.

    By the way, Colorado Workmans Comp. denied the claim saying I would have to prove that the job caused the heart attack......

    P.S. My cardiologist says that every male over the age of 30 should take a low dose aspirin every day. Check with your Dr.

    [This message has been edited by R. KETTLE (edited 02-17-2001).]


    • #3
      I wonder if the stress of breathing off the SCBA and working in the heat aren't contributing factors for heart attacks? Someone should do a study on this! It has to be harder on the body then we realize at the time we are doing it.

      Another big problem in the fire service is that we don't eat right and we don't exercise right. I know many a firefighter who lift weights at work but doesn't do the aerobic exercise that helps their heart stay strong. People should do 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercising three times a week. I bet most of us don't.

      As for the aspirin a day... I worked in the ER for years and most every doc I have talked to concurs with that! Actually, my spouse is a firefighter, and his medical director told all the guys in the department at an inservice that they should be taking a baby aspirin a day! But... as KETTLE said... talk to your doc first!!!!

      Stay Safe...
      Rebecca Richardson FF/EMT
      Isles of Capri Fire Rescue
      South Florida


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