Augusta firefighters working to lower their risk of heart attack, stroke

News 12 First at Five / Friday, June 7, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- University Hospital is stepping up to help some community heroes fight heart disease and save their own lives.

Lt. Trey Macky is a part of the new program and says one of the reasons he signed up hits close to home.

"One of the guys had a heart attack on duty, and I think that scared everyone," he said.

Firefighters are about 300 times more likely than anyone else to have a heart attack on duty, which is why Macky spent his Friday afternoon in an exam room, getting tested to see if he has any triggers for heart disease.

"If the physicians can catch it earlier with the technology we have nowadays, why not?" he said.

Macky, along with 59 other local firefighters, are part of a program sponsored by University Hospital. The goal is to test and treat firefighters for heart disease.

Battalion Chief Frank Lanier has never been tested for cardiovascular disease and says he's never noticed any heart problems before this study.

"They found some small stuff on me, and my cholesterol is a little elevated, so this lady here has talked to me how to eat, how to exercise, and then the doctor prescribes medicine to try to get it back down," he said.

Allison Hillman, coordinator for the Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center for University Hospital, says, "We want to take care of the people who take care of us. So, obviously, it is important to us that our emergency response and firefighters are in good health."

Firefighters say they are thankful for the program, and they say they hope it will help keep them from ever having a heart attack or stroke.

"To catch this now is the main thing for me so maybe down the road I won't have any problems," Lanier said.

Macky says, to him, taking the time to do this is worth every minute because your health is important.

"I think at the end of the day, that's all you have," he said.

University has been offering this program free of charge to the firefighters. Doctors and nurses donate their time to help keep the program free. At the end of the study, they plan to analyze a lot of the data they collect to see if our local firefighters' heart attack and stroke trends match up to the national data.

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