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Hypertension and Obesity Among Civil Aviation Pilots

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BACKGROUND: Raised blood pressure (BP) is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is a common cause of sudden in-flight incapacitation among pilots. Prevalence of hypertension (HT) among pilots as per new criteria is largely unknown. This study aims to understand the prevalence of hypertension and obesity in civil aviation pilots and their correlation.

METHODS: Enrolled were 1185 civilian pilots reporting for medical evaluation to a regulatory medical establishment in India. Their height, weight, and blood pressure (BP) were measured. Pilots were categorized as hypertensive or normotensive as per JNC VIII criteria and hypertensive, having elevated BP, or normotensive as per new ACC/AHA criteria of 2017. Data were analyzed for prevalence of obesity and overweight as per both WHO and Asia Pacific criteria. Results were analyzed using SPSS version 17.

RESULTS: Prevalence of hypertension was 4.1%. Maximum hypertensives were in the 26–35 yr age group. Under the new ACC/AHA guidelines, prevalence of HT was 18.7%. Prevalences of overweight and obesity as per WHO criteria were 39% and 7.3% and as per Asia Pacific guidelines were 23.3% and 46.3%, respectively. As BMI increased above 23, risk of developing hypertension or white coat hypertension as per JNC VIII criteria increased by 6.86 times (OR 6.86, 95% CI 0.9–52.58).

CONCLUSIONS: Prevalence of HT rose from 4.1% to an alarmingly high 18.7% when new criteria were applied. Prevalence of obesity was 7.3% but increased to 46.3% when Asia Pacific guidelines were applied. Risk of hypertension increased as BMI increased above 23 kg ยท m−2.

Bhat KG, Verma N, Pant P, Marwaha MPS. Hypertension and obesity among civil aviation pilots. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2019; 90(8):703–708.
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Keywords: Body Mass Index; aviation; hypertension; obesity; pilots

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2019

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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