Science and Health

Fatal Heart Attacks Strike Firefighters Under Pressure

Blazes aren't the only threat firefighters face. New research out of Minnesota links firefighters' vigorous activity and heart attacks.

Fatal Heart Attacks Strike Firefighters Under Pressure
Wikimedia Commons / Loco Steve

According to new research out of Minnesota, we might need to protect firefighters from more than the blazes they work hard to put out.

"​A new study finds firefighters who died of heart attacks and strokes while on the job were most often doing vigorous physical activity right before the attack." (Via WBTW)

Everyday Health reports researchers studied data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health from between 1998 and 2012. They focused their attention on firefighters who died while on duty.

During that time, 199 fatal cardiovascular events took place when firefighters were on the job, and 167 of those were recorded as heart attacks. (Via YouTube / Fire Cam)

And, as Counsel & Heal reports, researchers found a total of 148 of those incidents happened right after the firefighters had done some kind of vigorous activity such as fitness training or lifting heavy equipment.

Researchers say this new information raises some questions about the physical condition of those who work in vigorously demanding careers such as firefighting.

The 148 firefighters who died while on duty were 49 years old on average and had about 22 years of experience firefighting. Ninety-four of them were found to have high cholesterol, 93 had high blood pressure and 42 were smokers. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Loco Steve)

The study's lead author said in a press release, "Knowing that these fatal heart attacks and other vascular events occur relatively frequently, fire departments and other workplaces need to be prepared to recognize these events and screen for those who may be at higher risk." 

This new research will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in Philadelphia later this year.