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Nutrition and Heart Health In the Fire Service

A heart attack is the leading cause of on-duty death in the fire service.1


Figure 1. Cause of on-duty deaths.

Figure 1. Cause of on-duty deaths.


The most common personal health issues and heart disease risk factors among firefighters are high cholesterol and high blood pressure.3


Most heart disease among fire fighters is due to lifestyle. The good news — it is largely preventable by adopting healthy habits, like healthy eating and regular physical activity.


Nutrition Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) among Fire Fighters:

  • Many fire fighters are unaware of their unhealthy weight.4
    • About 75% of firefighters are overweight.
    • About 40% of firefighters are obese.
  • Fire fighters are interested in learning about healthy eating, but do not feel that health habits are being addressed by their employer.4,5
  • There are unique barriers to healthy eating among fire fighters.6


Figure 2. Barriers to healthy eating among firefighters.

Figure 2. Barriers to healthy eating among firefighters.


Next Steps

We know heart disease is a major concern among fire fighters. We also know many of the nutrition risk factors fire fighters experience. How do we address these factors to prevent heart disease deaths? Here are some ideas:


Figure 3. Ways to support healthy eating and heart health among firefighters.


Figure 3. Ways to support healthy eating and heart health among firefighters.



Sotos P.M., S. Cash, C. Christophi, S. Tolta, S. Moffatt, C. Muegge, et al. Rationale and design of feeding America’s bravest: Mediterranean diet based intervention to change firefighters’ eating habits and improve cardiovascular risk profiles. Contemporary Clinical Trials. 2017;61:101-107.


Laxmi S.M., T.M. Beckie, H.A. DeVon, C.L. Grines, H.M. Krumholz and M.N. Johnson, et al. Acute Myocardial Infarction in Women A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2016: 916-947.


Eastlake AC, B.S. Knipper, X. He, B.M. Alexander and K.G. Davis. Lifestyle and safety practices of firefighters and their relation to cardiovascular risk factors. Work. 2015;285-294


Kay BF, M.M. Lund, P.N. Taylor and N.H. Herbold. Assessment of firefighters’ cardiovascular disease-related knowledge and behaviors. Journal of American Diet Association. 2001;101(7):807-9.


Yang J, A., M. Farioli and S.N, Korre. Kales. Dietary Preferences and Nutritional Information Needs Among Career Firefighters in the United States. Global Advances in Health and Medicine. 2015;4(4):16-23.


Frattaroli S, K.M. Pollack, M. Bailey, H. Schafer, L.J. Cheskin and D.R. Holtgrave. Working inside the firehouse: developing a participant-driven intervention to enhance health-promoting behaviors. Health Promotion Practice. 2013;14(3):451-8.

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