Can Aspirin Help Keep Firefighters From Dying?

Article by Anna Schoenbach

Firefighters WalkingResearchers are investigating whether aspirin might be able to help reduce heart attack and stroke risk in firefighters.

Firefighting is a strenuous job. High body temperatures, dehydration, physical exertion and the mental stress of the job cause blood pressure to rise and blood clots to form more easily. This leads to an extremely high risk of heart attack and stroke for firefighters. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, these sorts of cardiac events cause over 50% of firefighter deaths in the line of duty.

Might aspirin, long used to treat fever and pain (and more recently to protect against cardiovascular disease and some cancers), be able to help?

A new study, published last month in the American Journal of Cardiology, looked at whether low-dose (81 mg) aspirin had an effect on the heart rate, body temperature, platelet count, and clotting activity of a small group of firefighters. It also compared the effectiveness of a daily aspirin to a single dose right before firefighting activity.

The study showed that daily doses of aspirin clearly reduced risk factors for heart attacks and stroke. However, the effect was mild, and aspirin is also known to come with side effects. These include the possibility for causing bleeding and ulcers in the stomach. However – relevant to firefighters – it can also cause increased bleeding from wounds and may increase the risk of heat stress.

The study was very small, and more research needs to be done on aspirin for firefighters. In the meantime, the researchers suggest that firefighters discuss daily aspirin use with their doctor to weigh the risks and benefits more effectively.

Study can be found Here