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Cutting firefighters’ heart-attack risk

America’s 1 million firefighters lead the nation’s first-responders when it comes to cardiovascular deaths on the job. The number of heart attacks among on-duty firefighters is twice that among on-duty police officers and four times that among medical personnel responding to an emergency.

“I’m reaching out to capture why firefighters are suffering from cardiac events. This will help us better understand the 1 million firefighters around the country that are at risk.” Mary Carey,
Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

Mary Carey of the School of Nursing faculty is working with members of the Buffalo Fire Department to develop a way to identify those at risk for cardiovascular events by assessing the feasibility of obtaining high-quality electrocardiograms from firefighters under work conditions. With a $411,539 grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research, she is working with 118 Buffalo firefighters from 12 precincts.

A pilot study she conducted with 28 Buffalo firefighters showed they could wear a portable ECG monitor that provided accurate data on heart function while on the job.

The goal of the new study is to develop guidelines that would send at-risk firefighters for aggressive cardiac care to reduce their heart-attack risk factors.

Carey is conducting research on sudden cardiac death with John M. Canty Jr., Albert and Elizabeth Rekate Professor and director of the Center for Research in Cardiovascular Medicine in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.


“Identifying firefighters at risk of heart attack while on the job is goal of UB study”
The most frequent cause of death among firefighters is not flames: it’s their hearts.

“To See the Greater Risk”
Building a research career in nursing

“Cornering Sudden Death”
Multidisciplinary research looks at molecular pathways, cardiovascular repair actions.

Kimball Tower School of Nursing