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A new study of firefighters published in the journal circulation indicates heat increases the risk of heart attack. The researchers at the University of Edinburgh believe the study may explain why heart disease is the leading cause of line-of-duty-deaths for firefighters. Funded by the British Heart Foundation 19 healthy Scottish Fire and Rescue Service firefighters who don’t smoke were chosen for the study.
They took part in exercises, including an attempted mock rescue from a two-storey structure, which exposed them to extremely high temperatures, while wearing heart monitors.
They found their core body temperatures remained high for three to four hours following exposure to the fire.
They also found their blood became stickier and was about 66% more likely to form potentially harmful clots. Their blood vessels also failed to relax in response to medication.
The research team believe that the increase in clotting was caused by a combination of fluid loss due to sweating and an inflammatory response to the fire heat, which resulted in the blood becoming more concentrated and so more likely to clot.
The researchers also found that the exposure to fire caused minor injury to the heart muscles.