Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fighting Fires and Heart Disease -

Fighting Fires and Heart Disease
A Guest Blog Entry by Paige Taylor

Firefighters are often commended on their heart for choosing such a courageous career.  But something else is striking about their hearts:  the leading cause of death for firefighters is heart disease. In order to keep firefighters healthy, it’s important to know how to maintain a lifestyle that’s good for the heart.

According to WebMD, almost 20% of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are related to cigarette smoking.  A person’s risk of heart attack greatly increases as a smoker, and nicotine causes a number of damaging effects, such as decreasing oxygen to the heart, increasing blood pressure and heart rate, and damaging the cells that line coronary arteries.  Although many people don’t consider smoking cigarettes as dangerous as other drug addictions, A representative from treatment centers. net explains that the risk of death from smoking is roughly 11 times that of addiction to other drugs. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease.  Firefighters interested in quitting can join the Put It Out smoking cessation campaign for support.

Firefighters put their bodies through tremendous physical pressure, so staying fit and active should come naturally.  But exercising can also help prevent heart disease.  Mayo Clinic points out that exercising for 30 minutes on most days of the week can reduce your risk of fatal heart disease.  Even shorter amounts of exercise offer benefits and reduce chances of developing conditions that strain the heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Another tool for reducing the risk of heart disease is to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.  The American Heart Association recommends a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.  Limit certain fats:  saturated fat and trans fat increase the risk of coronary artery disease by raising cholesterol levels.  Red meat, dairy products, deep-fried foods, and packaged snack foods are major sources of these kinds of fats.  Cooking at the station doesn't mean you have to sacrifice healthy and nutritious foods, and sites like have nutrition resources recommended for firefighters.

Although many people know that quitting smoking, exercising, and eating a nutritious diet can help prevent heart disease, it’s important for firefighters to move beyond just knowing these facts and start making changes to their attitudes and behaviors.  Firefighters save lives, but it’s important that they save their own as well.

Paige Taylor is a writer from Central Michigan University and she was interested in sharing some information on firefighters safety. Paige writes mainly about occupational hazards to help promote safety in the workplace.

Best wishes - Stay Healthy and Safe,

Paige Taylor