A new study performed by scientists from the University of Edinburgh found that firefighters were at a great risk of heart attack. The high temperatures and the strain they get subjected to while on duty appear to contribute to this increased risk.
Being a firefighter means a lot of hard work. The intense physical activity and the heat are known to cause blood clogging and affect the blood vessels. These are one of the main factors which lead to heart attacks or strokes. Thus, firefighters pose themselves to great risks, besides having to fight the flames.
What changes occur in the body when it faces intense heat?
Researchers developed this report to explain the high number of firefighters who suffer heart attacks. Only in United States, almost half of deaths which occur while on duty are accounted for by heart disease. The study simulated the conditions that firefighters have to face when rescuing victims from the flames.
When performing the simulation, they looked at the changes which occur in their bodies when they struggle with intense heat and sustained physical activity. The temperature of the body increases every 20 minutes by almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, the body loses a lot of water when subjected to the heat. This leads to hemoglobin loss, therefore a higher risk of forming blood clots.
Intense missions are more dangerous for firefighters with heart problems
This study is meant to bring a warning to all firefighters and their doctors. Researchers advise those who suffer from heart conditions to stay away from difficult interventions. Firefighting is a tough job anyway, but having to face high temperatures and engage in strenuous activities while carrying heavy gear is too much for an already weak heart.
Seventeen healthy firefighters participated to the study. They were engaged in a mock-up mission where they had to rescue a fake victim weighing 175 pounds. Also, they had to act at a temperature reaching 750 degrees Fahrenheit.
They discovered that their blood pressure became lower and their blood was more likely to start clogging. These changes were most probably the result of dehydration in combination with an extreme environment.
Therefore, they advise these people to try to expose themselves to extreme heat for a short time, and stay hydrated. Thus, they can avoid high risks of getting a heart attack.
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