The Deadly Stress of Policing


High-speed pursuits, physical altercations and other intense situations associated with policing can dramatically increase an officer’s risk of sudden cardiac arrest, also known as a heart attack, according to a study in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers analyzed summaries of more than 4,500 police officer deaths from 1984 to 2010. Nearly 441 cases (about 10 percent) were associated with heart attacks.

“Stressful law enforcement duties are associated with a risk of sudden cardiac death that is markedly higher than the risk during routine/non-emergency duties,” the study’s authors wrote.

Altercations were the most common activity associated with heart attacks, accounting for about 108 (25 percent) of cases. Other high-stress situations associated with sudden cardiac arrest were during physical training (20 percent), pursuit of suspects (12 percent), medical and rescue operations (8 percent).

About 23 percent of heart attacks studied occurred during routine duties.

Read the full study HERE.

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