One-third of firefighter deaths so far this year appear to have been due to Cardio vascular disease! Firefighters have one on the most stressful jobs around! Many firefighters are overweight and lack adequate physical fitness, which may be contributing risk factors.
Here are the statistics for the population at large:
- Cardiovascular Disease, aka Coronary Heart Disease, is the number one killer in US today!
- 950,000 Americans died last year of this silent disease.
- It accounts for 40% of all deaths in the U.S.
- 1 in 4 adults have CVD
- 1 death/minute among females, 6 times all other causes combined
- If CVD was eliminated, life expectancy would rise 7 years!
- Stress increases blood pressure and increases morbidity and mortality of those afflicted with Cardiovascular Disease!
- One-third of firefighter deaths so far this year appear to have been due to Cardiovascular disease!
- Researchers believe mental stress and overexertion combined with factors such as being overweight and in poor shape may increase the risk of dying from heart disease.
Firefighters have one on the most stressful jobs around! Many firefighters are overweight and lack adequate physical fitness, which may be contributing risk factors.
What can YOU do to add years to your life?
Let's start with understanding:
What is Cardiovascular Disease?
It is the actual hardening of the arteries. This hardening is actually clogging. This clogging causes a restricted blood flow and a decrease in oxygen allowed to flow to the muscles. Then when the muscles are called on to do extra work (like pull a hose), the heart has to work all that harder. The more brittle vascular system takes a beating, and the vessels scar and clog even more.
What does it look like?
Vasoconstriction is the narrowing due to plaque and hardening. Visualize globs of chewing gum stuck to the insides of your garden hose. As the water passes through, there is less space for the flow. Heck, you guys understand flow and fluid dynamics! As time goes on, and we age and watch our nutrition less closely, the gum wads increase in size and number. Imagine these gums wads are sticky, and attract more of the same. Like they want their friends around! Flow is further restricted.
Viscosity is the thickness of a fluid, and is inversely proportional to its ability to flow. Oil is more viscous than water. Toothpaste is more viscous than oil. Jello is more viscous than toothpaste. Blood is more viscous with more fat globules in it than when it doesn't have them.
You won't believe how drastic and how fast this works! Draw blood on someone 30 minutes after having a Big Mac, fries and a milk shake. Put the blood in a vile and put a stopper in it. Let is sit for five minutes. What you see will open your eyes. Have a trash can nearby. You might feel like barfing.
The blood, when it is more viscous, has problems flowing past these plaques on the sides of the blood vessels. This makes the heart work harder to push the blood through. In essence, it wears your heart out faster.
Turbulence: as particles adhere to the walls (plaque), this increases the swirling of the blood as it passes. These further increases the resistance to flow making your heart work even harder.
Let's talk about STRESS!!!!
When a body is in a stressful situation, it adapts with the fight or flight response. This is achieved with the release of adrenaline (cortisol) from the adrenal glands. One of the effects of cortisol is vasoconstriction, which results in an increase in blood pressure, and again more work for your heart!
Firefighters enter the fight or flight/stressful situation on just about every call. People can become somewhat "used to" this and accommodate to it. But, face it, we are all human. The things you guys (and gals) see can be so incredibly tragic; a physiologic reaction cannot be avoided.