By:  American Academy of Neurology / August 19, 2013

A new study suggests that pilots who fly at high altitudes may be at an increased risk for brain lesions. The study is published in the August 20, 2013, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.


For the study, 102 U-2 United States Air Force pilots and 91 non-pilots between the ages of 26 and 50 underwent MRI brain scans. The scans measured the amount of, or tiny  associated with  in other neurological diseases. The groups were matched for age, education and.
"Pilots who fly at altitudes above 18,000 feet are at risk for decompression sickness, a condition where gas or atmospheric pressure reaches lower levels than those within body tissues and forms bubbles," said study author Stephen McGuire, MD, with the University of Texas in San Antonio, the US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. "The risk for decompression sickness among Air Force pilots has tripled from 2006, probably due to more frequent and longer periods of exposure for pilots. To date however, we have been unable to demonstrate any permanent clinical neurocognitive or memory decline."
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