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Loaded treadmill walking and cycle ergometry to assess work capacity: a retrospective comparison in 424 firefighters.
Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Heart and Medicine Center, Department of Clinical Physiology in Linköping. Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9196-7820
Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Heart and Medicine Center, Department of Clinical Physiology in Linköping. Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.
Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Heart and Medicine Center, Department of Clinical Physiology in Linköping. Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.
Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Heart and Medicine Center, Department of Cardiology in Linköping. Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3756-207X
2017 (English)In: Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging, ISSN 1475-0961, E-ISSN 1475-097X, Vol. 37, no 1, p. 37-44Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The fitness of firefighters is regularly evaluated using exercise tests. We aimed to compare, with respect to age and body composition, two test modalities for the assessment work capacity. A total of 424 Swedish firefighters with cycle ergometer (CE) and treadmill (TM) tests available from Jan 2004 to Dec 2010 were included. We compared results from CE (6 min at 200 W, 250 W or incremental ramp exercise) with TM (6 min at 8° inclination, 4·5 km h(-1) or faster, wearing 24-kg protective equipment). Oxygen requirements were estimated by prediction equations. It was more common to pass the TM test and fail the supposedly equivalent CE test (20%), than vice versa (0·5%), P<0·001. Low age and tall stature were significant predictors of passing both CE and TM tests (P<0·05), while low body mass predicted accomplishment of TM test only (P = 0·006). Firefighters who passed the TM but failed the supposedly equivalent CE test within 12 months had significantly lower body mass, lower BMI, lower BSA and shorter stature than did those who passed both tests. Calculated oxygen uptake was higher in TM tests compared with corresponding CE tests (P<0·001). Body constitution affected approval differently depending on the test modality. A higher approval rate in TM testing suggests lower cardiorespiratory requirements compared with CE testing, even though estimated oxygen uptake was higher during TM testing. The relevance of our findings in relation to the occupational demands needs reconsidering.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 37, no 1, p. 37-44
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-120004DOI: 10.1111/cpf.12265ISI: 000390688200006PubMedID: 26096157OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-120004DiVA, id: diva2:839183
Note

Funding agencies: ALF grants; County Council of Ostergotland, Sweden; Olav Axelssons memorial fund

Available from: 2015-07-02 Created: 2015-07-02 Last updated: 2019-08-21
In thesis
1. Exercise Testing in Firefighters: Work Capacity and Cardiovascular Risk Assessment in a Low-Risk Population
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exercise Testing in Firefighters: Work Capacity and Cardiovascular Risk Assessment in a Low-Risk Population
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background. Firefighting is one of the most physically demanding occupations and it requires a high cardiorespiratory fitness level.

Pre-duty medical evaluation of firefighters includes fitness testing and assessment of cardiac health to ensure that firefighters meet the minimum physical fitness standard and to ensure that they are not at increased risk of cardiac events. The medical evaluation methods for Swedish firefighters are regulated by the Swedish Work Environment Authority and include a 6 min constant workload treadmill (TM) test for fitness evaluation in which the firefighter wears full smoke diving equipment and a maximal effort exercise electrocardiography test (ExECG) at cycle ergometer (CE) for assessment of cardiac health. Previously, fitness was also evaluated by cycle ergometry.

The standard parameter for evaluation of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) is exercise-induced ST depression. In general, exercise testing of asymptomatic low-risk individuals is discouraged due to low sensitivity and specificity for IHD, generating both false-positive and false-negative test results. Heart rate (HR) adjustment of the ST-segment response has been shown to be superior to simple ST depression to evaluate cardiac ischaemia in some populations, but has not been extensively evaluated in an occupational setting.

Methods. We retrospectively analysed a cohort of 774 firefighters who were asymptomatic at the time of the testing.

In paper I, test approval, HR response, and calculated oxygen uptake from TM tests and CE tests for 424 firefighters (44±10 years) were compared.

Paper II methodologically described the process for data extraction, processing, and calculation of ExECG data from a clinical database. Procedures for noise assessment, error checking, and computerized calculation of ST/HR parameters were described.

In paper III, ExECG and medical records of 521 male firefighters (44±10 years) were studied. During 8.4 ± 2.1 years of follow-up, IHD was verified angiographically in 12 subjects. The predictive value of HR-adjusted ST variables (ST/HR index, ST/HR slope, and ST/HR loop) for IHD was evaluated.

In paper IV, subjects with objectively verified IHD were excluded and factors associated with exercise-induced nonischaemic ST depression were studied in the remaining 509 males (46±11 years).

 

Results. The firefighters had an average maximal exercise capacity of 281 ± 36 W (range 186-467 W) achieved by incremental CE exercise. To enable comparison, the maximal workload was converted to the workload sustainable for 6 min. It was more common to pass the 6 min TM fitness test but to fail the supposedly equivalent CE test rather than vice versa.

Twenty percent of the firefighters developed an ST depression of ≥o.1 mV in at least one lead during exercise and half of the firefighters had a horizontal or downsloping ST depression. While an abnormal ST response associated with an increased risk for IHD only in V4, both an abnormal ST/HR index and an abnormal ST/HR slope associated with IHD in three leads each. Clockwise rotation of the ST/HR loop was infrequent in all precordial leads (1%), but it associated with an increased risk for IHD.

In the subgroup without evidence of coronary artery disease, age and the HR response associated with ST depression, whereas hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes, blood pressure response, and exercise capacity did not.

 

Conclusions. Even though the calculated oxygen uptake was higher for the TM test than for the supposedly equivalent CE test, the higher treadmill approval rate may indicate that the fitness requirement for Swedish firefighters has been lowered by changing the test modality.

Exercise-induced ST depression was common in asymptomatic physically active men, although there were only a few cases of IHD during follow-up. If performing ExECG in asymptomatic, low-risk populations, ST/HR analysis could be given more importance. However, the limited clinical value of ExECG in low-risk populations was emphasised and needs to be reconsidered.

In asymptomatic, physically active men without coronary artery disease, false-positive ST depressions can be partially explained by HR variables rather than by common cardiovascular risk factors and blood pressure response to exercise.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2019. p. 88
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1688
National Category
Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-159757 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-159757 (DOI)9789176850466 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-09-20, Berzeliussalen, Hus 463, Universitetssjukhuset, Linköping, 09:00 (Swedish)
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Supervisors
Available from: 2019-08-21 Created: 2019-08-21 Last updated: 2019-08-21Bibliographically approved

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Carlén, AnnaÅström Aneq, MeriamNylander, EvaGustafsson, Mikael

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