Saanich firefighters chose to show heart health some love and took part in a sports cardio study this month.
During the week of June 8, a research team from SportsCardiologyBC spent five days working with and screening members of the Saanich Fire Department, said Assistant Deputy Chief Rob Heppell.
The researchers are working their way across the province recruiting participants for the heart health program for first responders, Heppell explained. He called it a win-win because the SportsCardiologyBC team got to collect data and Saanich firefighters got to have their heart health assessed.
Heppell said more than 90 members of the department participated in the voluntary comprehensive cardiac screening. He was “thrilled with the level of participation” as the study was “really a benefit to the department.”
A welcome group of professionals @sportscardiobc providing expert clinical cardio assessments of our @SaanichFire team
This research will be used to further promote and support Heart Health programs for Firefighters and First Responders.@HeartandStroke #hearthealth https://t.co/QquUCO3qOV
— Dan Wood (@firechiefwood) June 10, 2020
Members were asked to fill out confidential questionnaires about their health, lifestyle and career. Then, the firefighters had blood work done and their blood pressure assessed before moving on to the stress test – exercise on a stationary bike.
Afterwards, participants were invited to speak privately with a cardiologist from SportsCardiologyBC about the results, their personal heart health and any lifestyle changes they should make. Heppell said this was a bonus for participants because, without symptoms, it can be difficult to get an appointment with a cardiologist which often means underlying issues are unaddressed until a medical incident occurs.
Thanks to the @sportscardiobc team! It was a great week @SaanichFire for cardiac screening. Fantastic participation from the members @Local967 and our Leadership Team. #hearthealth , @HeartandStroke . pic.twitter.com/NjgeyVzXCL
— Robert Heppell (@HeppellRobert) June 12, 2020
It’s important for everyone to be aware of cardiovascular disease and to check-in with a doctor, Heppell said, but for firefighters, it can be vital. According to research, about 45 per cent of on-duty fatalities among firefighters are caused by cardiovascular incidents, he explained.
“A cardiovascular event, particularly a fatality can be devastating to the firefighter’s family and the community at large,” Heppell said.
He added that while Saanich firefighters aren’t required to have an annual physical, it’s recommended. “Early detection is the key,” he said. “It’s important for all of us – not only firefighters.”