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Risk of A-Fib Up With Occupational Exposure for Firefighters

Prevalence of atrial fibrillation increased for firefighters with increasing numbers of fires fought per year

WEDNESDAY, March 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — For firefighters, a higher number of fires fought per year is associated with increased risk of atrial fibrillation, according to a study published online March 23 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Catherine Vanchiere, M.D., from the Temple University Health System in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional survey between October 2018 and December 2019. Firefighters who were members of at least one of five preselected professional organizations were surveyed; 10,860 active firefighters completed the survey. The survey queried the number of fires fought per year as a measure of occupational exposure, and self-reported cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that the prevalence of atrial fibrillation was significantly higher for firefighters who fought a higher number of fires per year (2, 2.3, 2.7, 3, 4.5 percent for zero to five, six to 10, 11 to 20, 21 to 30, and 31 or more fires per year, respectively). Increased risk of atrial fibrillation was seen in association with a higher number of fires fought per year in multivariable analysis (odds ratio, 1.14).

“Clinicians who care for firefighters need to be aware of the increased cardiovascular risk, especially the increased risk of atrial fibrillation, among this unique group of individuals,” a coauthor said in a statement. “The conditions that elevate their risk further, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, lung disease, and sleep apnea, should be treated aggressively. In addition, any symptoms of atrial fibrillation, such as palpitations, trouble breathing, dizziness, and fatigue, should be investigated promptly.”

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