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Firefighter Fitness and Medical Evaluations: A Difficult Journey

BY JOHN K. MURPHYHeart attacks and strokes were responsible for the deaths of 54 firefighters (47 percent) in 2007; the average age of the firefighter was 44 years old.1 The number of firefighter deaths attributed to cardiac problems is three times greater than that for the U.S. population. Unfortunately, the number-one cause of death in North America is cardiovascular disease, mostly caused by obesity,2 and, according to some research, 70 percent of heart disease fatalities are preventable through lifestyle changes.3About 30 percent of preventable firefighter cardiac deaths occur during firefighting activities; a firefighter’s chance of dying while fighting a fire is 100 times high...

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