Study Highlights Link Between Firefighters' Work and High Blood Pressure

USFA highlighted the NIOSH-funded study of whether working conditions such as the number of 24-hour shifts, number of calls, and physical demands are associated with elevated blood pressure and hypertension.

The U.S. Fire Administration alerted stakeholders about a recent, NIOSH-funded study about whether working conditions of career firefighters are associated with elevated blood pressure and hypertension. The research study by the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine found there is a link between the job demands of career firefighters and HBP.

The study investigated whether working conditions such as the number of 24-hour shifts, number of calls, sedentary work, job strain, and other physical demands are associated with elevated blood pressure and hypertension. It involved 330 career firefighters from Southern California who completed a firefighter-specific occupational health questionnaire and had their blood pressure and hypertension levels clinically assessed.

The study authors found there is a link between high job demands (many additional 24-hour shifts in the past month and increased demands over past years) and high blood pressure among career firefighters. They reported there is a need to optimize the collective and individual workload of firefighters by limiting the number of 24-hour shifts that a firefighter can work and recruiting new firefighters. Half of the hypertensive firefighters (mostly with mild hypertension) had uncontrolled high blood pressure, they found.

The study by Choi, Schnall, and Dobson is "Twenty-four-hour work shifts, increased job demands, and elevated blood pressure in professional firefighters," International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 89(7), 1111-1125.

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