Objective: Heart disease is the leading cause of firefighter line-of-duty deaths. The study objectives were to identify early atherosclerotic disease through ultrasound measurement of carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) and risk factors predicting increased CIMT and carotid plaque.
Methods: Following ultrasound evaluation of 597 Phoenix and Tucson firefighters, logistic regression was used to identify risk factors for mean CIMT greater than 75th percentile and for carotid plaque.
Results: Age, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) of 100 mg/dL or more, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were significant independent predictors of increased CIMT. Age, hypertension, LDL-C, and plasma soluble P-selectin were significant predictors of carotid plaque.
Conclusions: This study supports an emphasis on traditional risk factors for atherosclerotic disease in firefighters, in particular maintaining LDL-C less than 100 mg/dL. Plasma soluble P-selectin may help identify firefighters at increased risk for carotid plaque.