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The IAFF sounds the alarm on high blood pressure through national initiative

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has announced an initiative to raise awareness of high blood pressure amongst firefighters, who are particularly at risk from the condition
Fire fighters at work: the IAFF has launched a campaign to raise awareness of high blood pressure
IAFF launches nationwide firefighter health campaign

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) today announces a first-of-its kind health initiative that is providing its 300,000 professional fire fighters with tools to raise awareness of high blood pressure within their ranks and in the local communities that they serve. These fire fighters - who are responsible for protecting 85 percent of the nation's population - will help fight this chronic condition through health screenings and other educational activities.

The campaign, launched as the Stop, Drop, Control High Blood Pressure Program around May 17, World Hypertension Day, is being conducted in collaboration with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. As part of the initiative, a public online resource ( has been developed.

Approximately 74 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure, but about 30 percent of them are unaware they have the condition. High blood pressure is an asymptomatic, chronic condition that can cause damage to the blood vessels and make the heart work harder.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is associated with a higher risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Fire fighters, who face extreme physical and psychological stresses in their work protecting their communities, have a high rate of on-duty deaths caused by heart disease (45 percent) - and high blood pressure may be one of the contributing factors.

This first-hand experience makes IAFF and its members pivotal to the campaign and gives them a keen understanding of why raising awareness of high blood pressure is so important. "Professional fire fighters are among the most trusted and respected leaders of their communities, and know first-hand the dangers of high blood pressure," said Harold Schaitberger, IAFF General President.

"The IAFF is pleased to be working with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation - a global leader in
hypertension research - on an important public health initiative that will arm us with resources - such as
a comprehensive toolkit - to raise awareness about the potential dangers of high blood pressure among fire fighters and the general public."

IAFF affiliates and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation will also be participating in community health fairs in 20 cities that will provide the opportunity for fire fighters to speak about the program and other health and safety issues.

As a follow-on component to the Stop, Drop, Control program, and as part of its commitment to outcomes research, the IAFF and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation will be conducting outcome studies to evaluate the effects of the program on the health of fire fighters. Results of these studies may serve as a tool to help guide hypertension management practices among fire fighters across the country.

The first two cities to participate in the studies will be Indianapolis and Phoenix. "We anticipate that these studies may lead to improved outcomes and enhance firefighters' understanding of how to manage high blood pressure in this unique group of patients, whose welfare is important to everyone," said Joanne, R. Chang, MD PhD, VP & Head Evidenced Based Medicine, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

"This study reflects our commitment to improving the management of high blood pressure."

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