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World J Cardiol. 2015 Dec 26;7(12):882-8. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v7.i12.882.

Space radiation and cardiovascular disease risk.

Author information

1
Marjan Boerma, Vijayalakshmi Sridharan, Martin Hauer-Jensen, Division of Radiation Health, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72205, United States.

Abstract

Future long-distance space missions will be associated with significant exposures to ionizing radiation, and the health risks of these radiation exposures during manned missions need to be assessed. Recent Earth-based epidemiological studies in survivors of atomic bombs and after occupational and medical low dose radiation exposures have indicated that the cardiovascular system may be more sensitive to ionizing radiation than was previously thought. This has raised the concern of a cardiovascular disease risk from exposure to space radiation during long-distance space travel. Ground-based studies with animal and cell culture models play an important role in estimating health risks from space radiation exposure. Charged particle space radiation has dense ionization characteristics and may induce unique biological responses, appropriate simulation of the space radiation environment and careful consideration of the choice of the experimental model are critical. Recent studies have addressed cardiovascular effects of space radiation using such models and provided first results that aid in estimating cardiovascular disease risk, and several other studies are ongoing. Moreover, astronauts could potentially be administered pharmacological countermeasures against adverse effects of space radiation, and research is focused on the development of such compounds. Because the cardiovascular response to space radiation has not yet been clearly defined, the identification of potential pharmacological countermeasures against cardiovascular effects is still in its infancy.

KEYWORDS:

Cardiovascular disease risk; Countermeasures; Experimental models; Ionizing radiation; Space radiation

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