Firefighters Find Heart Disease More Challenging than Fires


Despite facing life-threatening situations everyday as part of their jobs, a new survey of National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) members shows the vast majority of firefighters have a greater fear of suffering injury or death from a heart attack and find heart-disease prevention – eating healthy and exercising – more difficult than putting out a blaze.

These fears are grounded in reality. Heart attacks are the leading cause of on-duty firefighter deaths in the United States. That's why Cardioviva, the first natural probiotic that has been clinically proven to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels in adults, is launching a heart health "search and rescue" mission during International Fire/EMS Safety & Health Week June 16 – 22.

Starting today through August 21, the Search is on for three Cardioviva Heart Health Champions:  firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMT) who are motivated to battle high cholesterol with diet and exercise. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 for his or her firehouse and a firehouse nutrition and fitness makeover valued at $5,000. Two first prize winners will each receive $5,000 and a $2,500 nutrition and fitness makeover for their firehouses.

"This survey showed that four out of five firefighters know at least one fellow firefighter who has suffered a heart attack, so it's not surprising that nine in 10 say they could be doing a better job of eating healthy and staying physically active," said Phillip C. Stittleburg, NVFC Chairman. "Heart disease is a big concern and they are looking for guidance and inspiration on how to find time in their busy schedules for staying healthy."

Cardioviva is asking volunteer firefighters and EMTs to share their personal stories about how they are motivated to battle – or have successfully battled – high cholesterol with diet and exercise. To enter the Search for the Cardioviva Heart Health Champions, submit stories and a photo online via Facebook at  

The Search for Cardioviva Heart Health Champions will be judged by public voting and a panel of heart health, fire, and nutrition/fitness celebrities and experts. The contest's aim is to help inspire fellow fire service professionals, their communities and consumers to make heart-healthy diet and lifestyle changes.

"I'm looking forward to working with the Heart Health Champions and their volunteer firehouses," said Chris Mohr, RD, PhD, a nutrition and exercise physiology expert who will oversee the fitness and nutrition makeovers. "I think we'll be able to learn a lot from each other and find exciting ways to teach and inspire other firehouses, communities and consumers."

Survey Results
Heart Disease - High Awareness and Concern

>>Three quarters (75 percent) of the surveyed firefighters/EMTs are more concerned about dying of a heart attack than in the line of duty

>>93 percent are aware that that leading cause of firefighter fatalities is heart attack

>>78 percent know at least one fellow firefighter who has suffered a heart attack

Big Challenge – Healthy Eating & Regular Exercise

>>85 percent say it's harder to eat healthy foods and exercise than to fight a fire

>>84 percent feel it's harder to exercise everyday than to fight a fire

>>73 percent claim it's a challenge to get access to healthy foods while at the firehouse

>>62 percent say it's a challenge to access exercise facilities while at the firehouse

Desire to do Better

>>92 percent recognize they could do a better job with their overall diet, and improve the foods and beverages they consume every day

>>88 percent feel they could do a better job with their daily exercise and improve their level of physical activity