Understanding your heart health
Although stress is certainly a factor in explaining the prevalence of heart disease among police officers and firefighters alike, heart disease is largely preventable by a good diet and regular exercise. That is why department wellness programs and heart screenings are some of the most important things that can be done to help mitigate the risk of heart disease. Health Fit Clinic offers expert cardiovascular care to prevent and treat heart conditions. We can help setup a personalized plan and monitor your heart for signs of stress and disease. Together, we can take care of your heart and keep it as healthy as possible.
WHY DO FIREFIGHTERS HAVE HEART ATTACKS?
Stress or overexertion are the main causes of heart attacks in firefighters. As ou know, firefighting is extremely strenuous work, and it can be one of the more physically demanding careers out there. Stress or overexertion is a general category that includes all firefighter deaths that are cardiac or cerebrovascular in nature, such as heart attacks and strokes, as well as other events, such as extreme climatic thermal exposure.
Classification of a firefighter fatality in this “cause of fatal injury” category does not necessarily indicate that a firefighter was in poor physical condition. In 2019, 36 firefighters died as a result of stress or overexertion; Thirty-two firefighters died due to heart attacks; Three firefighters died due to CVAs; One firefighter died from an aortic aneurysm and is listed as “Other;” and Ten were Hometown Heroes (source Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2019)
WHY DO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS HAVE HEART ATTACKS?
Studies have shown that law enforcement officers live an average of 15 years less than the rest of the population. That’s a stunning statistic! One of the reasons for this discrepancy in life expectancy is the disproportionate risk of heart disease for law enforcement officials. According to the American Heart Association, the average age of a police officer who suffers a heart attack is 49 years old, compared to 67 years old for the general public.
One explanation of the prevalence of heart disease in law enforcement could be stress. According to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and Cambridge Health Alliance, police officers face 30 to 70 times more risk of sudden cardiac death when they are involved in stressful situations such as altercations with suspects. Police officers face stress levels that few of us can relate to, which helps explain their disproportionate risk of sudden cardiac death.
Though the job itself will always be one that comes with stressful situations and extreme demands, stress can be managed and you can prioritize your physical and mental health. A healthy diet, regular exercise and heart screenings are all ways that can help lower the risk of heart disease.
TAKE THE NEXT STEP IN YOUR WELLNESS JOURNEY
An introductory meeting with Dr. McCarthy will allow us to get to know your comprehensive physical and mental health goals prior to setting up a personalized nutrition and fitness plan just for you. We’ll explore all preventative health and lifestyle options before discussing possible medication needs.