Officials: Nearly 50 percent of firefighter LODDs are cardiovascular

The U.S. Fire Administration said cardiac-related issues are the leading cause of death for firefighters on duty


By FireRescue1 Staff

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  — According to the U.S. Fire Administration, nearly 50 percent of on-duty firefighter deaths are caused by cardiovascular issues.

FOX Illinois reported that cardiac-related issues are the leading cause of death for on-duty firefighters, and Springfield Fire Marshal Chris Richmond said it’s because of the high stress that comes with the job.

Cardiovascular experts said major heart rates jumps that firefighters often experience can cause issues. (Photo/Kadena Air Base)
Cardiovascular experts said major heart rates jumps that firefighters often experience can cause issues. (Photo/Kadena Air Base)

“We go from a resting heart rate to a very high heart rate when that alarm goes on," Richmond said.

Marshal said a firefighter was recently woken up by an alarm while sleeping in the bunkers. When he rushed to respond to the call, his heart rate jumped from 63 to 141.

Cardiovascular experts said that major heart rate jumps like that can cause issues.

“When there’s such a get up and go response, in addition to the heart rate and blood pressure going up, it actually also increases their risk of platelet activation and platelet aggregation, meaning increased risk of clot formation anywhere in the body," Prairie Cardiovascular Consultant member Shachin Goel, MD said.

Richmond added that the high amount of exertion firefighters undergo is also a factor.

"It's a hundred percent excretion level. You have to be prepared to do that for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time," he said. “You have to be very careful to be mindful of your health, your diet, your workout regimen and you have to train specifically for firefighter related activities, to take care of your heart health.”

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