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Cognitive Performance Effects of Bilastine 20 mg During 6 Hours at 8000 ft Cabin Altitude

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INTRODUCTION: Bilastine is a new oral, second generation antihistamine used in the symptomatic treatment of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and urticaria. It is considered a nonsedating antihistamine and might be recommended for use in pilots, pending research on the effects on flying-related performance under hypobaric conditions that prevail in an airliner. We assessed the effects of a single dose of bilastine 20 mg on alertness and complex task performance of healthy volunteers in a hypobaric chamber at 75.2 kPa (8000 ft/2438 m cabin altitude).

METHODS: In a randomized, double-blind, crossover study, 24 volunteers received a single dose of bilastine 20 mg, hydroxyzine 50 mg (active control), and placebo. Using the Vigilance and Tracking Task, Multi-Attribute Task Battery, and Stanford Sleepiness Scale, assessments were made before and up to 6 h after intake of the study medication.

RESULTS: Bilastine 20 mg had no impairing effects on sleepiness levels, vigilance, or complex task performance for up to 6 h post-dose. Hydroxyzine 50 mg (active control) was associated with significant sleepiness and impaired performance across this time period, confirming the sensitivity of the tests.

CONCLUSION: Bilastine 20 mg did not cause sleepiness or impaired performance on tasks related to flying. It is anticipated that a single dose of bilastine 20 mg will not affect flying performance. Bilastine may provide a safe therapeutic alternative for pilots suffering from allergic rhinitis or urticaria. Our findings might also have implications for the treatment of allergic disorders of personnel involved in other safety-sensitive jobs.

Valk PJL, Simons R, Jetten AM, Valiente R, Labeaga L. Cognitive performance effects of bilastine 20 mg during 6 hours at 8000 ft cabin altitude. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2016; 87(7):622–627.
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Keywords: H1-antihistamine; aviation; cognitive performance; hypobaric hypoxia; pilots

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: TNO, Soesterberg, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2016-07-01

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  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

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