Mild coronary artery stenosis has no impact on cardiac and vascular parameters in miniature swine exposed to positive acceleration stress

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Abstract

Background

Exposure of pilots’ heart to acceleration-associated stress (+Gz stress) is an adverse effect of high-performance aviation. The occurrence of coronary heart diseases is one of the most frequent medical causes leading to cessation of flying.

Aim

To assess the effects of +Gz stress on coronary artery stenosis (CAS) in a minimally invasive miniature swine model with a fast recovery.

Methods

The proximal left anterior descending branch was ligated in 20 swine using silk suture. CAS degree (mild, moderate, severe) was analyzed by quantitative computerized angiography. Five swine underwent a sham operation. +Gz stress exposure was performed and venous blood was collected before/after exposure. Plasma C-reactive protein (CRP), endothelin (ET)-1, angiotensin (Ang) II and urotensin 2 (U2) levels were measured.

Results

CAS models were successful in 18 animals. Two swine exhibited ventricular fibrillation during the procedure and died. Plasma CRP, ET-1, Ang II and U2 changed significantly after maximal tolerated +Gz stress exposure (all P < 0.05). After maximal tolerated +Gz stress exposure, plasma CRP, ET-1, Ang II and U2 levels increased in the moderate and severe stenosis groups, compared with the sham group (all P < 0.05), but there was no significant difference between the mild stenosis group and the sham group (all P > 0.05).

Conclusion

The fully endoscopic operation method successfully generated animal models of different degrees of CAS. Plasma CRP, ET-1, Ang II and U2 levels increased after +Gz stress exposure with increasing CAS severity. Animals with mild stenosis showed no ill effect under +Gz stress, suggesting that pilots with mild stenosis might be allowed to continue flying, but it must be confirmed in humans.

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