Many firefighters who die of cardiac arrest have heart disease

Many firefighters die from cardiac arrest rather than fire-related injuries, but little is known about why these heart-related deaths occur. A new study examined autopsy data from male firefighters and found that 82% of those who died from cardiac events had evidence of coronary heart disease and enlarged hearts.

In a September 28, 2018 Reuters article, the study author suggested that exposure to smoke, soot, and chemicals in the air, as well as disrupted sleep patterns and high levels of job stress may contribute to the development of coronary heart disease.

Stefanos Kales, professor in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Reuters that the findings provide new evidence on the dangers of physically demanding high-stress jobs for people with underlying heart disease. Kales, who was not involved with the study, said that while health screenings for firefighters have traditionally focused on coronary artery disease, they should also include imaging such as an echocardiogram to identify possible issues such as heart enlargement or evidence of a previous heart attack.

Read the Reuters article: Heart disease common among firefighters who die of cardiac arrest