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Aviat Space Environ Med. 2013 Jun;84(6):608-12.

Cardiovascular investigations of airline pilots with excessive cardiovascular risk.

Author information

1
Occupational and Aviation Medicine Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand. ady.wirawan@otago.ac.nz

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

This study examined the prevalence of airline pilots who have an excessive cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk score according to the New Zealand Guideline Group (NZGG) Framingham-based Risk Chart and describes their cardiovascular risk assessment and investigations.

METHODS:

A cross-sectional study was performed among 856 pilots employed in an Oceania based airline. Pilots with elevated CVD risk that had been previously evaluated at various times over the previous 19 yr were reviewed retrospectively from the airline's medical records, and the subsequent cardiovascular investigations were then described.

RESULTS:

There were 30 (3.5%) pilots who were found to have 5-yr CVD risk score of 10-15% or higher. Of the 29 pilots who had complete cardiac investigations data, 26 pilots underwent exercise electrocardiography (ECG), 2 pilots progressed directly to coronary angiograms and 1 pilot with abnormal echocardiogram was not examined further. Of the 26 pilots, 7 had positive or borderline exercise tests, all of whom subsequently had angiograms. One patient with a negative exercise test also had a coronary angiogram. Of the 9 patients who had coronary angiograms as a consequence of screening, 5 had significant disease that required treatment and 4 had either trivial disease or normal coronary arteries.

CONCLUSION:

The current approach to investigate excessive cardiovascular risk in pilots relies heavily on exercise electrocardiograms as a diagnostic test, and may not be optimal either to detect disease or to protect pilots from unnecessary invasive procedures. A more comprehensive and accurate cardiac investigation algorithm to assess excessive CVD risk in pilots is required.

PMID:
23745289
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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