HEALTHLow Testosterone and Cardiovascular Risk Factor in Firefighters

Low Testosterone and Cardiovascular Risk Factor in Firefighters

By: Todd LeDuc

Firefighters in the United States are experiencing a persistent problem of sudden cardiac death and events. According to the United States Fire Administration, cardiovascular events are the leading cause of on-duty sudden death in firefighters.

Dr. Denise Smith has researched the Better Heart project which focuses on using enhanced imaging techniques to detect subclinical cardiovascular risk. However, one aspect that is not widely discussed is the potential role testosterone may play in contributing to cardiovascular risk.

Research

Recent studies have indicated that low serum testosterone levels can be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. However, it is important to note that much of this research is based on the general population and not specifically on firefighters. Firefighters face unique challenges such as extreme heat stress, physical exertion, and other environmental factors that can strain their cardiovascular and circulatory systems.

Dr. Smith and her team conducted a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Andrology, which analyzed data from Life Scan Wellness Centers. This organization provides comprehensive early detection physicals for firefighters, allowing for specific examination of testosterone findings in this population. The study found that firefighters with low or borderline serum testosterone levels had lower left ventricular wall thickness, as determined by cardiac echocardiogram. This suggests the presence of a potential “preclinical” low testosterone condition that may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems in firefighters.

While this research sheds light on the potential link between testosterone levels and cardiovascular health in firefighters, more studies are required to understand the implications fully. It is critical to gather additional data and continue exploring this area to protect the well-being of firefighters better. Given the occupational extremes and environmental factors firefighters face, it is important to determine how testosterone levels specifically impact their cardiovascular health.

Modifiable Risk Factors

In addition to investigating testosterone levels, addressing modifiable risk factors remains a key strategy in mitigating cardiovascular risk among firefighters. This involves promoting weight loss, physical conditioning, proper nutrition, controlling blood pressure, regulating sugar levels and cholesterol, quitting smoking, and moderating alcohol consumption. By addressing these factors, firefighters can reduce their overall cardiovascular risk and protect their health.

While the role of testosterone in cardiovascular risk is still being studied, it is crucial to interpret the findings in the context of the specific population of firefighters. The unique demands of their profession necessitate a thorough understanding of how testosterone levels may affect their cardiovascular health. Ongoing research and exploration in this area will contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between testosterone and cardiovascular risk. Ultimately helping to improve the health outcomes for firefighters.

Author: Todd LeDuc, CSO, Assistant Chief (Ret) Broward County Sheriff Fire Rescue, Board of Director for the International Association of Fire Chief’s Safety, Health & Survival Section.

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