Abstract P004: Shift-working Firefighters Have Poorer Heart Health Than They Think: An Intervention Opportunity
Background: As an occupational sub-group, career firefighters experience a disproportionately higher prevalence of cardiac events and risk factors than the general population. The pervasive nature of poor cardiovascular health (CVH) in this population might belie an occupational norm. Underestimation of poor health could be a barrier to the adoption of health-enhancing behaviors.
Methods: Baseline data from a sample of 478 male firefighters from five different fire houses were used to examine the relationship between objective and perceived health. Objective CVH was defined as meeting the American Heart Association ideal recommendations for the following six, CVH metrics: tobacco use (non-smoker), body mass index (≤24.9 kg/m2), physical activity (≥75 min/wk vigorous or ≥150 min/wk moderate activity), fruit and vegetable intake (≥4.5 cups/d), blood pressure (<120/80 mm Hg) and total lipids (<200 mg/dL). Firefighters rated their perceived health as excellent, average, fair or poor. The proportion of firefighters meeting the ideal status for each CVH metric, and total CVH metrics achieved, was generated. A chi-square test of independence examined differences between the binary ideal CVH metrics (0-3 versus 4-6 ideal CVH metrics) and perceived excellent/average health.
Results: The mean age of the sample was 38.2 years (SD=9.9), 89% (413/478) were Caucasian, 73% (334/478) were married, 67% (290/478) had an annual income of at least $75,000, and 90% (410/478) had attended college. Three-quarters (76%; 225/478) of the sample met the ideal recommendations for tobacco use, 20% (93/478) for body mass index, 0% for physical activity, 36% (174/478) for fruit and vegetable intake, 39% (184/478) for blood pressure, and 88% (345/478) for lipids. Overall, none of the firefighters sampled had ideal status on all 6 CVH metrics considered. Ninety-two percent (426/478) of the sample rated their health as average to excellent, although only 10% (47/478) of the sample had ideal status for 4-6 of the CVH metrics; 90% (431/478) had ideal status for 0-3 metrics (X2= 4.54; p=.03).
Conclusion: The CVH status of firefighters is poor, but firefighters with poor heart health inaccurately perceive their health as average or better. Addressing this misperception gap will be necessary to optimize responses to CVH interventions delivered to this population.
Author Disclosures: F. Patterson: None. R. Suminski: None. S.K. Malone: None. A. Lozano: None. S.A. Jahnke: None. W.S.C. Poston: None.
- © 2017 by American Heart Association, Inc.