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Heart Attacks, Stroke At Work Follow Vigorous Physical Activity, Study Finds

Update Date: Feb 25, 2014 09:44 AM EST

Firefighters who died of heart attacks and other problems such as stroke were doing vigorous physical activity before the attack, a new study has found. 

Researchers studied the data obtained from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health between 1998 and 2012. The study mainly focused on the deaths of firefighters who were on duty.

"Knowing that these fatal heart attacks and other vascular events occur relatively frequently, fire departments and other workplaces need to be prepared to recognize these events and screen for those who may be at higher risk," said study author Amna Zarar, MD, a researcher at Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute in St. Cloud, Minn in the press release.

In the duration, there were 199 fatal cardiovascular events when firefighters were on duty and 167 of them were heart attacks. Researchers noted that total of 148 events occurred right after vigorous activity and lasted an average of 33 minutes.

"People also need more awareness of the symptoms and signs that can precede or occur with a heart attack or stroke," Zarar added, "along with better screening for risk factors with regular health check-ups."

The report added that a total of 88 firefighters were actively engaged in fighting a fire when the cardiovascular event happened. Further, nearly 35 percent of the events occurred at the fire station were triggered by fitness training or lifting heavy equipments.

Among the total of 148 firefighters 94 had high cholesterol and 42 were smokers. 93 of them had high blood pressure, 22 of them had diabetes and the rest 46 had family members suffering from heart disease. 

The study will be presented at the forthcoming American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. 

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