Did you know that sudden cardiac arrest is still the number one killer of firefighters? And it is not just older firefighters who die, for the average age is 46!
Here are some questions you need to ask yourself today:
• What are you doing to prevent your heart from killing you?
• Do you get an annual physical?
• Does your doctor know that you are a career or volunteer firefighter?
• Do you know what your daily baseline vital signs are?
• Do you know what your family history is relating to cardiac health?
• Does your fire department offer “rehab or at least medical monitoring at the scenes of incidents?” I know several firefighters who are alive today because their underlying heart condition was identified during a “rehab.”
• Do you get at least 2.5 to 3 hours of moderate intensity aerobic exercise a week?
• Are you a tobacco user? If so, you should quit!
• Do you drink alcohol? If you do, drink in moderation.
• Are you eating healthy? Aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetable a day. Eat fiber rich grains and legumes such as dried beans, chickpeas, lentils, black-eyed peas.
I was diagnosed with AFIB when I went for a routine colonoscopy. As a result, I see a cardiologist every year, and my AFIB is well under control. Yes, I take a pill every day, pay more attention to my diet, and have become more physically active. As a result, my lab work during my annual physical has improved drastically!
Unfortunately, the numbers tell the story:
• According to the United States Fire Administration, in 2018 there were 82 line-of-duty deaths, and 37 of those deaths (about 45 percent) were attributed to over-exertion or stress.
• In 2019, according to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 48 line-of-duty deaths, and 26 of those deaths (nearly 55 percent) were related to over-exertion or stress.
While the total number of line-of-duty deaths has decreased since 1977, the average number of firefighters who die from heart attacks or strokes has remained at about 45 percent. Simply stated, heart attack and stroke are still the number one cause of firefighter deaths!
To reduce your chances of dying from a sudden cardiac event or stroke, make some changes in your lifestyle today. Start by getting a physical. Check out this link for a physicals guide you can send to your health care provider: https://bit.ly/3kidQvL.
Do it for yourself, your family, and your community.
-Ed Mann, November 2020