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:
- Quantify the prevalence of “hard cardiovascular events” in astronauts compared to controls when matched for age class only.
- Quantify the prevalence of “hard cardiovascular events” in astronauts compared to controls when matched for age class and CVD risk profile.
- Quantify the prevalence of “hard cardiovascular events” in astronauts compared to controls when matched for age class and fitness.
++ -- View more
Data within the LSAH and LSDA was used to determine whether space flight induces a higher incidence of cardiovascular risk factors and disease in astronauts. Data was collected on 310 NASA astronauts and 981 nonastronaut NASA employees. The nonastronauts were matched to the astronauts on age, sex, and body mass index, to evaluate acute and chronic morbidity and mortality.
The results of this study provide insight into the CVD in a large cohort of NASA astronauts. Career NASA astronauts as a whole had the same risk of developing a clinical CVD endpoint or a specific CAD endpoint as did a group of NASA civil servant employees, and this risk did not change after adjusting for known CVD covariates. Among the NASA astronauts who had had space flight experience by the fifth decade of life, the risk of CVD was not different from that of astronauts without a history of space flight by the fifth decade of life.
Blood chemistry panel
++ -- View more
Body mass index
Chest x-ray interpretations
Congenital heart defect
Congestive heart failure
Coronary heart disease
Exercise tolerance test
Extravehicular activity time
Fasting plasma glucose
Ischemic heart disease
Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) variables
Maximum predicted heart rate
Number of missions
Physical activity level
Pulmonary function test
Pulmonary heart disease
Respiratory exchange ration
Total cardiovascular disease
Total days in space
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: https://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/
+ Click here
for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.