CPO’s have a lot of heart. Heart disease too.

Jun 25th, 2012 | By | Category: Spotlight

Stress has never been higher: Be mindful, for your heart’s sake

Today is the first anniversary of the day I came home from the hospital–On June 24, 2011, I had a heart attack.  Paco notes the event to underscore the need for all CPO’s to attend to their heart health. As the excerpted article below documents, heart disease is rife in the ranks of public safety.

Fact is, heart attacks are so common in CDCR, the passing of an active or recently retired CO or PA causes nary an eyebrow to rise. When one of our folks dies in a car accident, it is tragic–Keeling over from a coronary is expected.

While it is true being physically fit is critical to avoiding the Big One, it is only part of it.  To wit, seemingly fit law enforcement officers have heart attacks with regularity–While others overeat or drink in response to stress, some internalize it without need of comfort food or drink.

Yet, sucking it up means it goes somewhere–Hypertension and depression are just as likely to cause heart failure as high cholesterol and a spare tire.

In that context, Paco encourages you to take a moment to pause and think about your heart today. Click through the provided link(s) and read the entire article at American Medical News.

I am lucky to be celebrating another year of life today. You, on the other hand, can take luck out of the equation.

Focus not only on physical health but mental health as well–For, indeed, they are one and the same.

For my part, I followed the advice of my cardiologist, family doctor and the shrink by participating in therapy known as ‘mindfulness.’ Essentially, mindfulness is meditation with a twist. The idea is to concentrate on being in the moment by focusing thought on sensations, sounds (etc) as a means of distracting the mind from unhealthy activities like ruminating on the past and worrying about the future. It may sound simplistic, even silly, but it works. In fact, mindfulness therapy is so effective, even the stingiest of HMO’s cover it…mine did.

“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.” –Psychology Today

Now, Paco knows many of you will never consider participating in meditative therapy. I understand. I wouldn’t do it either–Then I had a heart attack at 52. Now I am sold.

I have learned how to break the cycle of stress. But, if you are a knucklehead like Paco and your heart sends you an urgent message one day, here’s hoping you have the opportunity to do something about it thereafter…not in the hereafter. –

Chronic stress linked to more heart disease among police

Research showing increased risk and prevalence of cardiovascular disease in police officers also could apply to firefighters, nurses and teachers.
By Susan J. Landers | American Medical News

Washington — It’s no secret that police officers face a lot of stress on the job. After all, bringing in the bad guys is hazardous duty.

But surprisingly, it’s also the low-level, chronic stress of finishing up paperwork and juggling work and family — stressors faced by workers across occupations — that can take a toll on the health of police officers, according to recent research.

The risk for cardiovascular disease is higher among law enforcement officers than it is for the rest of the population, where it is already exceedingly high. Heart disease and strokes cause more deaths in Americans of both genders and all racial and ethnic groups than any other disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It appears that chronic stress in police officers may be a factor in heart disease’s elevated levels among these men and women….(Full text at American Medical News)

Additional Resources on Mindfulness:

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15 Comments to “CPO’s have a lot of heart. Heart disease too.”

  1. Delta says:

    “Heart Attack Myth Busters”


  2. P16 says:

    Thanks for the feedback. It’ll be hard for them to say it’s my lifestyle. I’m in the gym 4-6 days a week and still play 160-190 baseball or softball games a year. It’s just pitiful they want to cause you as much heartache as possible, which adds to the hypertension. I had even informed my supervisor the disparate treatment I was receiving was causing me to have high blood pressure in an attempt to get it to stop. Low and behold, he transferred me to another unit. But that’s another story.

    Again, thanks for the input and support.

  3. Kate K says:

    I did not do this and now wish I did as it has been a battle since I have retired mainly due to the fact my doctor ( who is very lazy and hates doing any type of job claim) told me at the time of my retirement I was on my way to a stroke. Just dealing with the issue made my blood pressure go up. nd he has me on six hypertensive meds. But I did not file a claim. just retired. But everytime I try to do something part time I can not get hired due to my hypertension. And I do not smoke or drink. So yesyoudoneed todo leans hire a lawyer so you do not have the added stress.

  4. In The Know says:

    Get an attorney, get legal representation, and get an AME. My claim was denied until the AME, then the state suddenly accepted the findings and started sending money. My claim is still pending settlement, but the attorney will handle it and it will come with lifetime medical. Hang in there.

  5. P16 says:

    For some reason, SCIF denied my claim for high blood pressure. Including hypertrophy of the left ventricul, which my personal Dr said was caused by the high blood pressure. I don’t get how it can be denied, but it forced me to obtain representation. Just waiting for a AME or QME to make the determination. Attorney stated it should have been accepted, but due to all the staffing cuts they’re denying claims. SCIF feels staff are trying to just medical out. I now have 27 years. It would not be so smart to go out now at 48.

    Wondering if anyone else has been denied lately?

    • Bob Walsh says:

      The legal presumption that the job caused the condition is rebuttable. They either think it was caused by something else or they are trying to stall you in hopes you will go away or drop dead before the case is settled. Sometimes you have to get a lawyer to get what you have coming. It sucks, but it is true.

      • kl2008a says:

        My initial HBP case was accepted w/o any hassle. Then when I refiled (because the State failed to follow the WC Dr’s instructions) WC denied my claim (go figure, first they accept it then when I reopen a new claim they deny it when nothing changed). That’s when I hired a WC attorney. The dickhead WC representative screwed with me right up until my benefits were about to expire and a WC Appeal Board judge approved it w/backpay and lifetime medical. The jerk continues to screw with my treatments and mileage. PERS is suppose to have 90 days to give you an answer on your app for industrial disability retirement. It took them 2 YEARS for mine to get approved. Every 120 days I would call them and they would give me the run around saying they didn’t have this report or that one, even after having someone sign registered mail for it. It was a long uphill battle but I finally got mine. For my brothers and sisters in this battle all I can say is hang in there. Get a good WC attorney. By law they only can get 15% of your award so it’s not going to break you to hire one.

    • pacovilla says:

      HBP and other heart disease apportion to the employee and the state, in other words, they make a determination of how much is the result of your lifestyle and how much may be attributed to work. Conversely, a heart attack is automatically 100% on the state. My left ventricular hypertrophy was diagnosed 6 years before the MI and was deemed 50% my doing. As for the attorney, it is always advisable to hire one before filing a claim.

  6. In The Know says:

    CCPOA riders should know that high blood pressure is covered by our SCIF workers compensation. I submitted a WC claim for hypertension the day after my doctor diagnosed it and placed me on meds. It was approved, cash payments were made by the plan towards my final settlement, and it will be settled with future medical to cover the treatment and meds for it for life. Anyone working in R06/S06/M06 needs to immediately put their WC claim in if you take meds to control your blood pressure….. 5 years ago I would never have considered such a thing, but now after being repeatedly raped by our employer year after year they will no longer get a pass for anything…

    • kl2008a says:

      If you are continued on meds to control your HBP at the time you’re ready to retire, look at filing for an industrial disability retirement for hypertension and any related damage caused by such. You can do it at the same time you submit for regular retirement. This way you still get your regular retirement pending the outcome of the review for industrial disability retirement. The later will get you tax exempt on 50% of what you are making now. Come tax time, that’s a hefty chunk of change left IN your pocket. Hopefully, you will live long enough to really enjoy the extra coins.

  7. Howie Katz says:

    Guys, count your blessings. This is one area where California has got Texas beat, and beat by a country-mile at that.

    In Texas, peace officers, firefighters and correctional officers do not have a heart, stroke or hypertension clause that holds these conditions to be work-related. No payoff for those conditions in Texas.

  8. Capn Crunch says:

    The sad part of this is that most c/o’s in CA don’t know that on or off duty a heart attack is a workers comp covered issue. So far SCIF has been excellant in it’s handling of my case. I have since been medically retired with the heart being but one of the issues. Was it due to stress? I don’t know. I prided myself on never being stressed as I first realized when I came into the department there were a bunch of idiots that had the name supervisor. I just did my job as I should then when I promoted I knew I was an idiot. Ten years as a Sgt did not stress me out but for some reason I had the big one. Thought I was super healthy but……….at least I recognized the signs. The widowmaker came but I am living proof, after 4 years, that I can beat it. Got to do what the doctor said about getting the weight down and staying healthy.

    • pacovilla says:

      You are absolutely correct. My MI happened 23 months after my official retirement, making it no different than if I had suffered the attack on duty (24 months is the cutoff, I am told. I received a nice temporary disability stipend until the state docs determined my disability was “permanent and stationary.” Since then, I have received a less nice stipend which will expire in about 10 months. And, there remains the possibility of a final cash settlement. All things being equal, I’d rather have the years I will invariably lose back, notwithstanding how much fun the heart attack was and how cool it is to have a little extra cash.

  9. kl2008a says:

    Paco, the readership should also know that if/when/should their personal doctor start treating them for hypertension the next thing they need to do is file a worker’s comp claim. They can still work with hypertension that is being treated, managed, and under control. For use in corrections/law enforcement it is considered an inherent work related injury/illness. In addition, this may be the basis for supporting an industrial disability retirement later on. Bottom line – get checked, get checked regularly, and take your meds if you’re put on them. One thing I found is that those with hypertension also fit the category of PTSD. Check out http://www.warrelatedillness.va.gov/education/healthconditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder.asp

  10. Steelheader says:

    Outstanding article Jeff. I survived my MI at the ripe old age of 43, on July 12, 2007. I cannot emphasize enough for my brothers and sisters in arms to make sure that you keep an eye on what your body is telling you. I was having “mini” heart attacks for an entire week prior to the “big one” that almost took me. I didn’t listen to my body and it damn near cost me my life. My indications weren’t the traditional heart attack indications. So, I opted to dismiss what my body was saying. I had just had a stress test done 3 months prior, and it gave no indication that I was in trouble. My cardiologist told me that the only way they would have been able to tell that something was wrong was with an angiogram. I urge anyone that is having palpitations, and/or pressure (NOT pain) on the upper portion of their chest, get to your doctor immediately. It could save your life. I have lost 4 friends in the last year to heart attacks. 2 (47 and 48 y/o) never saw retirement, and the 3rd (52 y/o) was retired 350 days. The 4th (early 50s) made it a whole 5 months into retirement. A 5th (earky 50s) had his stroke 2 years ago and finally succumbed from the effects of it a couple of months ago. PLEASE make sure you take care of yourself.