Maria Korre, Konstantina Sampani, Luiz Guilherme G Porto, Andrea Farioli, Yustin Yang, David C Christiani, Costas A Christophi, David A Lombardi, Richard J Kovacs, Ronald Mastouri, Siddique Abbasi, Michael Steigner, Steven Moffatt, Denise L Smith and Stefanos N Kales*
Background: Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) accounts for 45% of on-duty deaths in US fire service; cardiac enlargement is common among US firefighters; and plays a major role in firefighter Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD). Objective: To estimate the prevalence of cardiac enlargement in US Firefighters by autopsies, echocardiography (ECHO) and Cardiac Magnetic Resonance (CMR).
Methods: In the present cross-sectional study, the prevalence of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH)/ cardiomegaly was a) estimated non-invasively among active career firefighters and b) examined by reviewing autopsies of firefighters who suffered a non-cardiac, on-duty fatality. Left ventricular mass (LVM) among active career firefighters was assessed by ECHO and CMR, and normalized (indexed) for body surface area (BSA) and height. Autopsy estimates were based on cardiac weights and other forensic parameters.
Results: LVH prevalence estimates among active career firefighters presented a range from 3.3% to 32.8% among ECHO; and 0.0% to 5.3% among CMR criteria. LVH was present in 17.5% and 0.4% of the active firefighters as defined by LVM indexed to height 1.7 (by ECHO and CMR, respectively). LVM indexed to BSA as measured by CMR indicated zero prevalence of LVH. Among non-cardiac traumatic autopsies, prevalence estimates of cardiomegaly and LVH were 39.5% (95% CI 33.7–45.3) and 45.4% (95% CI 39.5–51.4) respectively, even after adjustment for age and BMI.
Conclusions: The prevalence of cardiac enlargement varied widely depending on the imaging assessment, the cutoffs and the normalization techniques. For autopsy data, BMI was a major determinant of heart weight. Future CVD-outcome based studies are needed to provide evidence for the most accurate clinical cutoffs, while standardization of autopsies is needed across protocols and jurisdictions.