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National Firefighter Health Week: Heart Strong

National Firefighter Health Week: Heart Strong

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

It’s National Firefighter Health Week, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) wants to help you keep your heart, mind, and body strong. We encourage you to use this week to focus on your overall wellbeing and start making the healthy lifestyle choices that will keep you strong all year long.

Each day this week, the NVFC is sending out an email with tips and tools to help you focus on the daily health topic. The five focus topics this year are behavioral health, personal protective equipment (PPE), heart-health, cancer, and nutrition and fitness. Find more resources and tools in the National Firefighter Health Week Resource Center at

Remember, only you can keep it strong. Are you up for the Challenge?

Wednesday, August 18: Strong at Heart

Heart attacks are the leading cause of line-of-duty firefighter deaths each year. Heart disease affects 80 million Americans, and the emergency services are not immune. In fact, the stress put on the heart and body by emergency response activities creates an increased risk of heart attack. Stay strong at heart by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and knowing your risks.

Quick Tips:

  • Stop smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Make a plan to quit today. Visit the NVFC’s Put It Out smoking cessation campaign web site for tools and resources to help you become smoke-free.
  • Aim for a healthy weight. Overweight and obesity cause many preventable deaths.
  • Stay active. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
  • Eat for heart-health. Choose a diet that is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Be sure to include plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Know your numbers. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL, triglycerides), and blood glucose. Work with your doctor to improve any numbers that are not normal.

Activity Ideas:

  • Have a meeting with your department to educate everyone on what to do if you think you or someone else is suffering from a heart attack. Knowing what to look for and how to react can decrease the risk of serious disabilities or death. Use the NHLBI Heart Attack Survival Plan as a resource.
  • Schedule an appointment with your doctor to get screened for heart disease risk factors including blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels.
  • Take the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Risk Assessment Tool for Estimating Your 10-year Risk of Having a Heart Attack. Send it to your department members to take too.
  • Make a record of your family history of heart disease and other health conditions.

Article Links:
The Pulse:

Fire Department Network News:




Quote of the Day:

"It may be possible to incorporate laugher into daily activities, just as is done with other heart-healthy activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be exercise, eat right, and laugh a few times a day."

- Michael Miller, MD, F.A.C.C., Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center