A long term study of Stress in Civil Servants in the United Kingdom explains how stress at work is linked to heart disease.
This comes from a long running Whitehall study which has been following 10,306 London based civil servants since 1985 and which is led by Sir Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London U.K. The entire document on this subject is available on line: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/printerfriendlynews.php?newsid=04641 or http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/
Of note for firefighters: "Adjusting for health behaviours did not change the association between work stress and low heart rate variablitity, suggesting a direct effect on the ANS (autonomic nervous system which regulates involuntary actions, such as actions of the heart by the vagus nerve, telling it how to work and controlling the variability of the heart rate)....and neuroendocrine functions, rather than indirect effects through health behaviours" as a quote by Dr. Tarani Chandola, a senior lecturer in UCL Deptartment of Epidermiology.
For firefighterveterans this means that even if you get "heart healthy" and are 100 percent fit...the outcome of the stress impact on your coronary arteries is going to be significant if you do not adjust for stress from the work we are doing... The effect of long term stress without lifestyle changes inclusive of not just physical health but re hab from the stress with breaks that include family and friends can affect your health outcome.
From the report comes the following:
"The effect on the ANS and neuroendocrine function in turn affecting the signals to the heart, leading to cardiac instability"
Getting connected to stress information by reading this report as well as connecting to lifestyle changes will make a difference in our firefighter population. Additonal stress information is available from the web site http://www.firefighterveteran.com/ as well as section 13 of the everyone goes home life safety initatives located at http://www.everyonegoeshome.com/