In a provisional report obtained from the United States Fire Administration (USFA) titled A Provisional Report On-Duty Firefighter Fatalities in the United States: Date Range 1/1/2007 to 12/31/2007, 45.2% of firefighter deaths was attributed to a heart attack with 47.8% of the cause of firefighter fatal injury was related to stress and/or overexertion. Many joke that firefighters just sit around waiting for the fire, but the notion of having to go from a resting state to full response places great stress upon your cardiovascular system. If you are not training your cardio system to respond in such a fashion then you could be setting yourself up to become a statistic yourself down the road.
So what to do? Look for the following risk factors you can change:
1. Are you a smoker? – Smoking constricts the blood vessels making your heart have to work harder and faster. Overtime this can lead to a breakdown of protective lining of arteries leading to an increased risk for development of artherosclerosis (plaque build-up).
2. Do you have high cholesterol? –Eat less saturated fat. Your body produces 75% of cholesterol with a 10% increase in cholesterol will result in a 20% increased of developing coronary artery disease. The American Heart Association recommends 200 minutes of cardio exercise per week.
3. Do you have high blood pressure?- This also increases cardiac stress upon the heart with the need to control your diet intake of sodium, stop smoking, and lose weight.
4. Are you over weight? Have too much body fat?- Keep a food log for a week or two and see a dietitian who can help make adjustments to you dietary intake. Make sure you eat a balanced diet low in fat and sodium and control your portions.
5. Do you lack exercise, living a sedentary lifestyle?- In the upcoming postings there will pictures and video clips of various exercises along with recommendations for cardio programs to try so first step is to make sure you have a good physical with blood work conducted to monitor cholesterol levels. Then look to start with 30-40 minutes of cardio 3-4 times per week at a level which causes your heart rate to increase be it walking outside, on a treadmill, or an elliptical.
6. Do you have diabetes?-
7. Is your diet high in sodium and/or fat?- A low fat and sodium diet is best. Check the food labels when buying packaged foods.
8. Do have a lot of stress in your daily routine/life?- Prioritize what is being demanded upon you and do not keep things inside. Find someone to talk to or if not willing to talk, exercise and write it down somewhere.