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05-04-17

Firefighters have higher heart attack risk 'because of heat'

According to a BBC News report, working in high temperatures increases the risk of suffering a heart attack, researchers have said.

The study may explain why heart disease is the leading cause of death among on-duty firefighters, the researchers from the University of Edinburgh said.

The research, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), is published in the journal Circulation.

Nineteen non-smoking, healthy firefighters were randomly selected from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to take part in the study.

They took part in exercises, including an attempted mock rescue from a two-storey structure, which exposed them to extremely high temperatures, while wearing heart monitors.

They found their core body temperatures remained high for three to four hours following exposure to the fire.

They also found their blood became stickier and was about 66% more likely to form potentially harmful clots. Their blood vessels also failed to relax in response to medication.

The research team believe that the increase in clotting was caused by a combination of fluid loss due to sweating and an inflammatory response to the fire heat, which resulted in the blood becoming more concentrated and so more likely to clot.

The researchers also found that the exposure to fire caused minor injury to the heart muscles.

We would be keen to work closely and develop closer relationships with the British Heart Foundation. This would help assist our national workforce strategy, which focuses in firefighters and puts their well-being at the forefront of our work.

Ann Millington

Ann Millington, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Workforce Coordination Committee said: "We are grateful to the British Heart Foundation for this research.  The health and safety of our fire fighters is one of our paramount concerns and we will seriously consider the findings and work on ways to mitigate potential harm.

"In addition, we would be keen to work closely and develop closer relationshipswith the British Heart Foundation. This would help assist our national workforce strategy, which focuses in firefighters and puts their well-being at the forefront of our work. "

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