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Lipid Profile of Firefighters Over Time: Opportunities for Prevention

Soteriades, Elpidoforos S. MD, MSc; Kales, Stefanos N. MD, MPH; Liarokapis, Dimitrios PhD; Christoudias, Stavros G. BS; Tucker, Scott A.; Christiani, David C. MD, MPH, MS

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: September 2002 - Volume 44 - Issue 9 - pp 840-846
Original Articles

Heart disease is the primary cause of on-duty deaths in firefighters, but little is known about their lipid profile. We evaluated the lipid profile in relation to other cardiovascular disease risk factors in 321 firefighters at a baseline examination. Prospective comparisons were performed for 285 firefighters, who were enrolled in a statewide medical surveillance program, and had complete follow-up data for 4 years. The average cholesterol level in firefighters declined from 224 mg/dL at baseline (1996–1997) to 214 mg/dL at the follow-up examination (P < 0.0001). Conversely, both obesity (body mass index ≥ 30; 34% versus 40%, P = 0.008) and triglycerides (≥200 mg/dL; 27% versus 35%, P = 0.047) increased over time. The proportion of firefighters taking lipid-lowering medications increased from 3% at baseline to 12% at follow-up (P < 0.0001). Cholesterol levels declined significantly, and treatment rates for elevated cholesterol increased over time. Despite repeated examinations, a considerable number of firefighters had persistently elevated cholesterol, and only a minority were receiving adequate treatment.

From Cambridge Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Dr Soteriades, Dr Kales, Mr Christoudias; Mr Tucker); the University of Massachusetts (Dr Liarokapis), the Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health (Occupational Health Program) (Dr Soteriades, Dr Kales, Dr Christiani), and Massachusetts General Hospital, Pulmonary/Critical Care Unit, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr Christiani); and the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Olympus Specialty and Rehabilitation Hospital, Braintree, Massachusetts (Dr Christiani).

Address correspondence to: Stefanos N. Kales, MD, MPH, Cambridge Hospital, Department of Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Health, 1493 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139; stefokali@aol.com

©2002The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine