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Determining the Effect of Space Flight on the Incidence of Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Disease (NNX13AQ93G)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Biomedical countermeasures
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a primary cause of morbidity and mortality among the general population. Early detection and identification provides the foundation for mitigating the disease progression. Traditional risk stratification models, such as the Framingham Risk Score, are used to classify an individual as low, moderate, or high-risk. While this model is useful, CVD prediction can be improved with additional clinical measurements, specifically in special populations like military and commercial airline pilots, thus providing evidence that a generalized CVD prediction model may not be adequate for individuals such as astronauts. More clearly defining the CVD risk factors associated with space flight is critical for future long-duration missions. The astronaut is challenged with an environment that has minimal medical capabilities and treatment options relative to Earth-based occupations. Likewise, mission success and survival depends upon the health and physical capabilities of its crew. A cardiac event, like a myocardial infarction or chronic arrhythmia, will limit an astronaut’s ability to perform in space and may require mission termination. In addition, the prevention of CVD and increased understanding of the relationship between space flight and CVD progression are of critical importance. The overall goal of this study was to use data from the Longitudinal Surveillance of Astronaut Health (LSAH) and the Life Sciences Data Archive (LSDA) to determine whether space flight induces a higher incidence of cardiovascular risk factors and disease in astronauts.

This study had the following specific aims:

  1. Quantify the prevalence of “hard cardiovascular events” in astronauts compared to controls when matched for age class only.
  2. Quantify the prevalence of “hard cardiovascular events” in astronauts compared to controls when matched for age class and CVD risk profile.
  3. Quantify the prevalence of “hard cardiovascular events” in astronauts compared to controls when matched for age class and fitness.

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Ade CJ, Broxterman RM, Charvat JM, and Barstow TJ. Incidence rate of cardiovascular disease end points in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Astronaut corps. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2017. August 7;6(8):e005564. [DOI]

Clinical medicine
Risk assessment

Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. Data sets are not publicly available but can be requested.
Data Sets+ Request data

Alcohol use
Bilirubin, total
Blood chemistry panel
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Ground 05/01/2009 In Progress

Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration. Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity, and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors, and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.

The Human Research Roadmap is located at:

+ Click here for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Alternate Experiment Name
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2012 Crew Health NNJ12ZSA002N