Cardiovascular mortality of cockpit crew in Germany: cohort study

Z Kardiol. 2003 Jun;92(6):483-9. doi: 10.1007/s00392-003-0945-0.


Pilots and other cockpit crew in civil aviation are regularly screened for medical problems that could influence their work performance. Fitness particularly in terms of cardiovascular health is of major importance for this group. While previous studies had shown a low cardiovascular mortality risk of pilots, there is conflicting evidence concerning the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in this group. We investigated the cardiovascular mortality of German cockpit crew in a retrospective cohort study. A cohort that included all cockpit crew employed for two German airlines (n=6061) from 1960-1997 was compiled. We calculated the Standardised Mortality Ratio (SMR) and 95% confidence intervals as the ratio of observed and expected numbers of cardiovascular deaths with the German general population as comparison. The influence of age, age at hire and employment duration were analysed in stratified and regression analyses. Overall mortality from cardiovascular causes among cockpit crew was reduced. For mortality from all cardiovascular causes we found an SMR of 0.5(95% CI 0.3-0.6), for acute myocardial infarction the SMR was 0.4 (95% CI 0.3-0.7). Cockpit crew taking up employment at age 30 or later had a more than twofold cardiovascular mortality risk compared with those beginning employment earlier, but there was no risk gradient with duration of employment. Overall, cockpit crew has a relatively low cardiovascular mortality to which a low smoking prevalence and an early detection of cardiovascular health problems are likely to contribute. Cockpit crew employed before age 30 has the lowest cardiovascular mortality risk.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aerospace Medicine*
  • Age Factors
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Employment
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Myocardial Ischemia / mortality
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease / mortality
  • Time Factors