The results of medical and psychophysiological examination performed during an arctic world oceanic international flight

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  • Authors: Atkov O.Y.1, Gorokhova S.G.1, Serikov V.V.2, Alchinova I.B.3,4, Polyakova M.V.3,4, Pankova N.N.3,4, Karganov M.Y.3,4, Baranov V.M.4
  • Affiliations:
    1. Russian Medical Academy of Continuous Professional Education
    2. N.F. Izmerov Research Institute of Occupational Health
    3. Institute of General Pathology and Pathophysiology
    4. Research Institute for Space Medicine
  • Issue: Vol 74, No 4 (2019)
  • Pages: 261-271
  • URL:
  • DOI:
  • Cite item
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Background: The development of the Arctic region is connected with extreme and strenuous work conditions and transmeridian shifts. The resulting stress changes the functional state of involved professionals irrespective of their age. Successful performance of job tasks depends on individual adaptation, which is an urgent issue to be studied with modern research methods.

Aims: The study was a complex research project on adaptation and changes of cardiovascular and psychophysiological functioning in response to long-term stress associated with rapid climate changes and transmeridian shifts experienced by the participants of the Arctic World Oceanic International Flight «Sever Vash».

Materials and methods: The participants of Sever Vash expedition, which took place in July and August 2018, were examined. According to the design of the study, they underwent a complex laboratory and instrumental assessment before the start and immediately on the finish. Blood parameters, level of DNA damage in blood cells, cardiovascular parameters (heart rate, brachial and aortic blood pressure (BP), subendocardial blood flow etc.), allostatic load index (ALI), and data of psychophysiological tests with work capacity assessment were analyzed.

Results: All participants (7 males, 39−69 y.o.) completed the planned route. The actual duration of the flight was 43 days. Comparative pairwise analysis on the finish revealed an increase of total blood protein (p<0.000), creatinine (p<0.000), bilirubine (p=0.038) and AcAT (p=0.031), and glucose (p<0.000) levels, and shifts in peripheral blood parameters, which are typical for the process of adaptation to the Polar conditions and transmeridian shifts. An increase of DNA damage in white blood cells was found. Average values of hemodynamic parameters were in a normal range; heart rate increased (p<0.000); mean brachial BP (p=0.003) and systolic aortic BP (p=0.001) decreased. Average values of pulse BP and subendocardial blood flow did not change (p<0.05). ALI increased in four pilots; in others, no ALI dynamic was observed. Psychophysiological potential decreased after the flight. The number of errors and omissions of target signal (р≤0.000) increased, attention span and emotional stability deteriorated. Along with this, the mood parameter increased to a maximum level, and risk tolerance level decreased (р<0.001).

Conclusions: Working in Arctic conditions is connected with stress factors and leads to multiple and deep changes required for urgent adaptation. Allostatic load index, which is an integral parameter of strained functioning in extreme conditions, can be a marker of individual adaptation. The achieved functional stability of body systems, particularly the cardiovascular system, ensures an acceptable level of work capacity in the considered conditions.

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About the authors

Oleg Yu. Atkov

Russian Medical Academy of Continuous Professional Education

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5211-2560

Russian Federation, 2/1, Barrikadnaya st., Moscow, 125993

MD, PhD, Professor

Svetlana G. Gorokhova

Russian Medical Academy of Continuous Professional Education

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7087-8140
SPIN-code: 1272-5072

Russian Federation, 2/1, Barrikadnaya st., Moscow, 125993

MD, PhD, Professor

Vasiliy V. Serikov

N.F. Izmerov Research Institute of Occupational Health

ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7523-4686
SPIN-code: 3681-1221

Russian Federation, 31, Prospect Budennogo, Moscow, 105275


Irina B. Alchinova

Institute of General Pathology and Pathophysiology; Research Institute for Space Medicine; Research Institute for Space Medicine

ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5294-7317
SPIN-code: 1935-0418

Russian Federation, 8, Baltiyskaya st., Moscow, 125315; 28, Orekhovy boulevard, Moscow, 115682


Margarita V. Polyakova

Institute of General Pathology and Pathophysiology; Research Institute for Space Medicine

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0517-630X
SPIN-code: 7234-5577

Russian Federation, 8, Baltiyskaya st., Moscow, 125315; 28, Orekhovy boulevard, Moscow, 115682


Nataliya N. Pankova

Institute of General Pathology and Pathophysiology; Research Institute for Space Medicine

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3582-817X
SPIN-code: 8069-0818

Russian Federation, 8, Baltiyskaya st., Moscow, 125315; 28, Orekhovy boulevard, Moscow, 115682


Mikhail Yu. Karganov

Institute of General Pathology and Pathophysiology; Research Institute for Space Medicine

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5862-8090
SPIN-code: 9149-6257

Russian Federation, 8, Baltiyskaya st., Moscow, 125315; 28, Orekhovy boulevard, Moscow, 115682

PhD, Professor

Viktor M. Baranov

Research Institute for Space Medicine

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4914-8343
SPIN-code: 9688-5056

Russian Federation, 28, Orekhovy boulevard, Moscow, 115682

MD, PhD, Professor


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Supplementary files

Supplementary Files Action
Fig. 1. Route: basic geographic parameters of the expedition

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Fig. 2. Index reflecting the degree of DNA damage

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Fig. 3. Indicators of heart rate variability in testing without spirometric mask

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Fig. 4. Individual dynamics of sleep quality and drowsiness indicators

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Fig. 5. Results of psychophysiological tests

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