Cardiovascular Risk Screening and Stratification of Victorian Volunteer Firefighters

Presentation at Research Forum of the 2012 Bushfire CRC and AFAC Annual Conference.

The work demands involved in firefighting place significant stress on the cardiovascular system1. This study investigated the application of the AHA/ACSM Health/Fitness Facility Pre-participation Screening Questionnaire2 in volunteer Country Fire Brigade (CFA) firefighters. Methods: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors were measured in 3882 CFA firefighters and entered into a modified version of the American Heart Association (AHA)/ACSM Health/Fitness Facility Pre-participation Screening Questionnaire to stratify individuals as low, moderate or high risk. Results: Almost half (49.8%) of female and more than two thirds (67.2%) of male CFA firefighters were classified as moderate risk.

Conclusion: A majority of firefighters screened were at moderate risk and therefore, would require satisfactory completion of a medical evaluation and supervised exercise test prior to undertaking vigorous intensity firefighting work. To ensure accurate risk assessment and stratification, future application of the AHA/ACSM questionnaire should be accompanied with job-specific physical capacity testing to effectively identify firefighters at risk of on-duty CVD related events. 

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