Nonsustained ventricular tachycardia in 193 U.S. military aviators: long-term follow-up

Aviat Space Environ Med. 2000 Aug;71(8):783-90.


Background: Despite its importance to the aeromedical community, the occupational implications of asymptomatic, nonsustained ventricular tachycardia (VT) are not well described. We sought to clarify this issue via a review of military aviators evaluated for nonsustained VT by defining event rates for sudden cardiac death, syncope, presyncope and sustained VT, and by determining whether any cofactors predicted a subgroup at increased risk for such outcomes.

Methods: We reviewed the records of 193 military aviators evaluated at the U.S. Air Force Aeromedical Consultation Service for nonsustained VT from September 1960 to December 1992. Follow-up information was available on 192 of the 193 aviators over a mean of 10.6 yr. Cofactor analysis focused on idiopathic VT (no associated underlying cardiac disease) and VT associated with mitral valve prolapse (MVP).

Results: There was no documented sustained VT; 9 (4.6%) had events including syncope (1), presyncope (5) and sudden death (3). Of these 9, 4 had idiopathic VT. The 3 deaths were associated with coronary artery disease, MVP and cardiomyopathy. No cofactors predicted events in aviators initially presenting with asymptomatic nonsustained VT. For asymptomatic nonsustained VT, the maximum predicted annual event rate was 0.33% for idiopathic VT and 2.3% for VT with MVP (95% confidence limit).

Conclusions: Nonsustained VT did not predict future documented sustained VT. Cofactors failed to predict a subgroup at increased risk for events. Idiopathic nonsustained VT appeared to be a low risk population for whom expanded waiver criteria are proposed with suggested limits on duration and number of episodes of VT.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aerospace Medicine
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel*
  • Prognosis
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / mortality
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / pathology*