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Peace officers are taught to be tough, in control and looking out for the welfare of others. Keep in mind, though, the job also comes with a lot of stress that could be hard on the heart. While February is the month of love, it’s also Heart Month – a reminder that we need to take care of our hearts so we will be around to celebrate many more Valentine’s Days with our loved ones.

If you are in law enforcement, don’t think a heart attack can’t happen to you; working odd shifts, responding to incidents and crashes and subduing suspects all take a toll. Research by Harvard doctor Stefanos Kales found policing is one of the most stressful jobs in the United States and the risk of suffering a heart attack escalates by 70 percent during dangerous activities like:

  • Altercations/suspect restraining
  • Pursuits
  • Physical training
  • Rescue operations

Kales estimates that sudden cardiac deaths account for 10 percent of all on-duty U.S. police deaths. His conclusion: more needs to be done by law enforcement agencies to promote fitness and health programs to reduce officers’ risk of heart attacks.

Warning Signs

So what are the warning signs and risks factors? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says these are the three major risk factors for heart disease:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. High LDL cholesterol
  3. Smoking

These other medical conditions and lifestyle choices also put people at a higher risk:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity and being over-weight
  • Poor Diet
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

Pay attention; here are the primary warning signs of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or upper stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, lightheadedness or cold sweats

And women are not immune to heart disease. While the incidence of heart related death rates have declined steadily for men, rates for women have fallen at a slower rate.

Recommendations

An article in Officer.com discussed the risk of heart attack for law enforcement officers and offered these prevention tips:

  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy cholesterol level and know your number
  • Control blood pressure
  • Do regular exercise
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Improve your diet
  • Manage stress
  • Use aspirin therapy
  • Reduce alcohol intake

Dr. Kales and his researchers also concluded that law enforcement agencies should:

  • Conduct annual physicals
  • Require regular physical fitness
  • Ban smoking

 

We think your auto and home insurance shouldn’t add stress to your life. California Casualty has a long relationship with law enforcement groups across the nation providing quality insurance with exclusive benefits not available to the general public. Find out more and get a policy review today at 1.800.800.9410 or at www.calcas.com/peace-officer. While you’re at it, make sure to enter the California Casualty “Work Hard/Play Hard” contest at http://go.calcas.com/harley for the chance to win a customized Harley-Davidson or $25,000. The next winner will be announced in October.

 

Sources for this article:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/

http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_149525.html

http://www.utahpeoplespost.com/2014/11/police-officers-face-higher-risk-sudden-cardiac-death/

 

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