A decades-long study from a Russian medical institution has revealed that cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death among cosmonauts – the Russian version of astronauts. In 1961, Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union became the first-ever person to go to space when Vostok 1 spacecraft and he completed an orbit of the Moon.
Since then, more than 560 people have been to space, and 118 of them were Soviet or Russian.
Of those 118 Soviets or Russians, 37 have since died.
Researchers at the Izmerov Research Institute of Occupational Health, Burnasyan Federal Medical Biophysical Centre, and Institute of Biomedical Problems analysed the various causes of death and found there was one dominant cause.
The study found that of the 37 who have died, 48.65 percent have died from cardiovascular disease.
Another 27.03 percent of the cosmonauts died from malignant neoplasms (cancers).
The next leading cause of death was external causes, such as accidents, which accounted for 16.22 percent.
The remaining 5.41 percent of deaths were listed as “other”.
According to the research, the median age of those who died was 64.4 percent.
However, as many of the cosmonauts who died took flight in the early days of the space race, the researchers concede there is little data to support theories of whether there is a link.
But there are studies that suggest long-term space flight can lead to problems of the heart.
Without the use of gravity helping the heart in pumping blood around the body, astronauts are exposed to a plethora of health issues.
A 2019 study from an international research conglomerate found space travellers are at an increased risk of strokes, blood clots, decrease in plasma volume – which makes up 55 percent of blood and contains water, salts, enzymes, antibodies and other proteins – and even backwards blood flow.
The researchers said the main issues came within the internal jugular vein (IJV), which runs down the neck from the brain.
A study of 11 astronauts found six of them had developed stagnant or backwards blood flow in the IJV after spending just 50 days on the International Space Station (ISS).