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Cardiovascular Tests for Risk Assessment in Asymptomatic Adults and Implications for Pilots

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BACKGROUND: This study aims to examine which marker or testing protocols have been suggested for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment in asymptomatic populations, at which CVD risk level, and how this can be implemented for CVD risk assessment in pilot populations.

METHODS: A systematic search was performed using Systematic Reviews Subset on PubMed; the OvidSP interface, including all EBM reviews and EMBASE databases; and the G-I-N International Guideline Library. From each recommendation, we extracted data on consideration of the use of a marker or test for cardiovascular risk assessment in asymptomatic populations.

RESULTS: Included were 45 guidelines, systematic reviews, or meta-analyses relevant to cardiovascular risk assessment in asymptomatic populations. The majority (9/12) of the citations recommend coronary artery calcium score (CACS) for CVD risk assessment in intermediate-risk (10-yr CVD risk score of 10–20%) asymptomatic adults. Other cardiac and vascular tests that may also be considered include the measurements of carotid-intima media thickness, supplemented by carotid plaque, and the ankle brachial index for prevention of peripheral artery disease and stroke. Stress myocardial perfusion scan is the potential cardiac functional test to be used with pilots with 5-yr risk of ≥15%. Among laboratory markers, only hs-CRP has a potency to be used in CVD risk assessment in intermediate-risk asymptomatic adults; however, the strength of the recommendation is not adequate.

DISCUSSION: Among the cardiac and vascular testing available, CACS is the most frequently suggested test. The implications of findings for CVD risk assessment in airline pilots are highlighted in this paper.

Wirawan IMA, Griffiths RF, Larsen PD. Cardiovascular tests for risk assessment in asymptomatic adults and implications for pilots. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2018; 89(7):648–656.
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Keywords: airline pilot; assessment tools; asymptomatic population; calcium score; cardiovascular risk

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: July 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • 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.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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