INTRODUCTION: With commercial spaceflight comes the possibility of spaceflight participants (SFPs) with significant medical conditions. Those with previously untested medical conditions, such as diabetes mellitus (DM) and the use of indwelling medical devices, represent a unique challenge. It is unclear how SFPs with such devices will react to the stresses of spaceflight. This case report describes two subjects with Type I DM using insulin pumps who underwent simulated dynamic phases of spaceflight via centrifuge G force exposure.
CASE REPORT: Two Type I diabetic subjects with indwelling Humalog insulin pumps, a 23-yr-old man averaging 50 u of Humalog daily and a 27-yr-old man averaging 60 u of Humalog daily, underwent seven centrifuge runs over 48 h. Day 1 consisted of two +Gz runs (peak = +3.5 Gz, run 2) and two +Gx runs (peak = +6.0 Gx, run 4). Day 2 consisted of three runs approximating suborbital spaceflight profiles (combined +Gx and +Gz). Data collected included blood pressure, electrocardiogram, pulse oximetry, neurovestibular evaluation, and questionnaires regarding motion sickness, disorientation, greyout, and other symptoms. Neither subject experienced adverse clinical responses to the centrifuge exposure. Both maintained blood glucose levels between 110-206 mg · dl(-1).
DISCUSSION: Potential risks to SFPs with insulin pump dependent DM include hypo/hyperglycemia, pump damage, neurovestibular dysfunction, skin breakdown, and abnormal stress responses. A search of prior literature did not reveal any previous studies of individuals with DM on insulin pumps exposed to prolonged accelerations. These cases suggest that individuals with conditions dependent on continuous medication delivery might tolerate the accelerations anticipated for commercial spaceflight.
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