By Michelle Martin, MS, and LT Megan Casey, RN, BSN, MPH

Little is known about the cardiovascular risks for miners in the US as most research to date has focused on respiratory illness. Potential mining-related risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, noise, vibration, temperature extremes, and shift work combined with personal risk factors can put miners at greater risk of poor cardiovascular health. In an effort to better understand miners’ risk, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) examined blood pressure and obesity, both risk factors for cardiovascular disease, among 1,402 miners in 2015. The research, recently released in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, revealed that among the coal miners studied, blood pressures in the hypertensive range and obesity were higher than what would be expected for the US adult population. Nearly 8 of every 10 coal miners evaluated had blood pressure readings indicating either prehypertension or hypertension and nearly 9 of 10 were overweight or obese.

NIOSH offers free health screenings for all coal miners through the mobile Enhanced Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program.. Radiographic examinations, blood pressure (BP) screenings, and occupational and health history questionnaires are provided. Lung function testing (spirometry) is also performed if no medical issues are identified. A limited assessment of cardiovascular health risk factors, including hypertension and obesity, can be made using information gathered during these evaluations.

A majority of the 1,402 participants were male (94%), white (93%), and non-Hispanic (94%). The median age was 54 years with a range of 15–88 years. The data revealed that 46% of participants had…Click here to read the rest of the blog post.