Did you know that cardiac deaths account for 24 percent of all deaths in the United States, but that 47 percent of on-duty firefighter deaths are cardiac-related? Researchers at the University of California at Davis wanted to understand why firefighter on-duty cardiac death is so much more frequent than in the general population. Here’s what they found:
- Cardiac death was the leading cause of on-duty firefighter death in the United States during the period of 2002-2012, and the majority of deaths occurred on-scene (29 percent) or after responding to a duty call (25 percent).
- Analysis of the data reaffirmed findings of other studies that linked risk of cardiac death with firefighter fitness and age.
- Their study indicated that stress and overexertion was the most impactful risk factor of all for cardiac arrest. It’s the root cause for 98 percent of cardiac fatalities among firefighters.
- Physical fitness is an imperative. Uniform fitness guidelines and annual cardiovascular fitness screenings can lead to reduced risk of on-duty cardiac death for all firefighters.
Source: Cardiac Fatalities in Firefighters: An Analysis of the U.S. Fire Administration Database. Journal of Burn Care and Research. Vol 37 (3) (May/June 2016)
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