Heart Attack Risk Among Firefighters Is High: Almost 45 Percent Of Them Die While On-Duty Due To Heart Problem

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Apr 05, 2017 10:00 AM EDT

Firefighting is associated with higher risk of a heart attack episode due to extreme heat exposure, a new study has found. In the United States, there are almost 45 percent firefighter deaths while on duty because of problems with the cardiovascular system.

A team of researchers involved 19 firefighters in finding evidence linking heart attack and very high temperature. These participants are from Scotland and were assured to be healthy and nonsmokers.

According to Medical News Today, the participants underwent two fire simulation exercises done one week apart. The researchers found particular alterations in the bloodstream after participants underwent the fire exposure test, which might trigger a heart attack.

During the two sets of tests, participants were exposed to temperatures above 752°F (400°C). They were out within the extreme heat while rescuing a victim, weighing over 170 pounds, from a two-storey building.

The participants went on a blood pressure monitoring 30 minutes before the fire simulation exercise and 24 hours after. "The firefighters wore heart monitors that continuously assessed their heart rate, heart rhythm, and the strength and timing of electrical impulses passing through each part of the heart. We analyzed these to look for evidence of heart strain that might signify a lack of blood being delivered to the heart muscle," Nicholas Mills, Ph.D., lead author of the study explained.

This kind of physical undertakings can damage heart muscles of healthy firefighters. This might explain the association between firefighting and risk of heart attack, Dr. Mills added. The study findings were published in the journal Circulation.

The researchers also discovered that chances of blood to clot are high due to the body's reaction from physical struggle and intense heat exposure. There's no concrete proof why exaggerated temperature can cause a heart attack but this study provides new significant pointers.

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