According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of death across the nation is cardiovascular disease. The concern for heart health is especially relevant to the fire and emergency medical services.
Our annual report on firefighter fatalities in the United States for 2019 found that the leading cause of fatal injury was stress or overexertion, a general category that includes all firefighter deaths that are cardiac or cerebrovascular in nature, such as heart attacks and strokes. Over half of firefighter fatalities in 2019 were cardiac- or cerebrovascular-related.
To reduce the number of on-duty cardiovascular deaths among U.S. firefighters, prevention is truly the best medicine. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends that fire departments follow established medical screening guidelines, adopt risk reduction measures during firefighting operations, and develop and participate in comprehensive wellness and fitness programs.
The American Heart Association reminds everyone that focusing on your heart health has never been more important, since people with poor cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
This February, the U.S. commemorates American Heart Month. It's an opportunity for the nation to promote awareness about heart disease and ways to adopt healthier lifestyles. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a free toolkit to assist you with community outreach in promoting awareness and prevention efforts. The CDC also provides resources for public health professionals.
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