Prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease in paramedics

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2015 Oct;88(7):973-80. doi: 10.1007/s00420-015-1028-z. Epub 2015 Feb 6.


Purpose: Occupational stress and obesity are very prevalent in emergency workers. Some studies have also associated high tobacco consumption rates with occupational stress. Each of these factors is known to increase cardiovascular risk. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of occupational stress, overweight and tobacco consumption in paramedics.

Methods: This cross-sectional study of paramedics consisted in a self-report survey of 44 questions divided into two sections. The first section collected demographic information and the second evaluated occupational stressors. The questions were designed to determine the prevalence of work-related psychosocial factors, overweight (body mass index ≥ 25 kg/m(2)) and tobacco consumption (cig/day ≥ 1). The demand-control-social support model and the effort-reward model were used to estimate job strain, iso-strain and imbalance in effort and reward.

Results: More than 88 % of paramedics reported at least one cardiovascular risk factor, with males reporting more risk factors than females. Ninety percent of male paramedics reported occupational stress, 12 % reported smoking, and 79 % were overweight or obese by self-report. The prevalence of occupational stress and smoking was similar for female paramedics, but with a lower prevalence of overweight (37 %).

Conclusion: By self-report, nine out of ten paramedics are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Both individual and organizational efforts should be made to educate and support paramedics and their organizations in reducing these workers' cardiovascular risk.

Keywords: Effort–reward imbalance; Emergency medical services; Emergency worker; Iso-strain; Job strain; Occupational stress; Overweight; Tobacco use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allied Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*