Cardiovascular Disease in Firefighters

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Informational Research Essay

Research & Writing Health Sciences
ENG 1121

Cardiovascular Disease in Firefighters

Firefighting uses techniques and equipment to extinguish fires, protect and limit damages to valuables, assist in other emergencies and ultimately save lives. The main basis in firefighting is to extinguish the fire by removing one or more of the three components that causes combustion, which are: heat, oxygen or fuel. The modernization of industrialized life has required firefighters to become more trained and physically fit to operate existing technologies and protection against prominent health hazards. In this essay, I will be discussing the three long term health risks of Firefighters: high-stress, cardiovascular risks, and cardiovascular disease associated with firefighting.

There are many factors that contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease in firefighters. “The trend over the last 20 years for percent of deaths due to some form of cardiovascular disease has ranged from approximately 35% to 53% of all deaths”, (Pendergast, 2004, p.6) in firefighter fatalities. CVD affects the cardiovascular system; hindering the normal functions of the heart, brain and other vital organs. In most instances, ischemia and hypoxemia are the main causes of CVD. Ischemia is the insufficient blood flow in providing adequate oxygenation to vital organs, thus, in turn, causes hypoxemia (low blood oxygen) and tissue hypoxia. When tissue hypoxia occurs in the heart, arrhythmia (fibrillation of the heart) is likely to occur, followed by a myocardial infraction. In some cases, ischemia does not need to be a contributing factor for CVD, for example, anemia (lack of healthy red blood cells) may be more prevalent than ischemia. Due to the amount of risk factors researched, risk factors were categorized into three parts; Personal (advancing age, gender, underlying health conditions, hypertension, smoking, sleep...
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