Full article (PDF): ENG / UKR
Introduction: Scientific evidence now suggests that even small doses of ionizing radiation can pose a risk for the development of non-neoplastic diseases, specifically those affecting the circulatory system. Following the Chornobyl nuclear power plant accident, radiation exposure extended beyond plant workers to include the population evacuated from the 30-kilometer exclusion zone. These evacuees experienced a significant dose load in a relatively short period, warranting their classification as a distinct risk group in the state register of those affected by the Chornobyl accident.
Objective: This study aims to assess the risk of non-neoplastic circulatory system diseases among individuals evacuated from the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone between 1992 and 2022, based on epidemiological observations.
Materials and Methods: Over the 1992–2022 period, a total of 3,757 evacuees from the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone underwent cardiac examinations at the Polyclinic of the Radiation Registry (PRR) of the National Center of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. This group comprised 2,750 women and 1,007 men, aged 18–60 at the time of the Chornobyl accident. Their ages at the time of examination ranged from 23 ± 5 to 53 ± 7.34 years for women and 18 to 49 years for men. Individual effective doses of ionizing radiation ranged from 0.001 Sv to 0.38 Sv. Diseases of the circulatory system, diagnosed for the first time, were recorded according to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases of the Tenth Revision (ICD-10). Epidemiological analyses employed key indicators, including structure (S) and absolute risk (AR) with a 95% confidence interval (±CI 95%). Statistical analysis was conducted using Excel-2017 software.
Results: In the circulatory system disease structure, "other heart diseases" (I130-I52) predominated, followed by "diseases characterized by high blood pressure" (I110-I15), accounting for 82.10% of cases. The remaining 17.9% included "diseases of arteries, arterioles, and capillaries," "ischemic heart disease," and "chronic rheumatic heart diseases." Disease development patterns were similar in both genders. The total study cohort exhibited an absolute risk of AR (±CI) of 425.29 (425.34÷425.85) per 1000 person-years of observation, with women at 490.85 (490.54÷491.15) and men at 190.41 (190.04÷190.77). The lower risk for men may be attributed to their younger age by approximately ten years.
Conclusions: Evacuees exposed to short-term, low-dose ionizing radiation (0.001 Sv ÷ 0.38 Sv) during the Chornobyl evacuation demonstrated elevated absolute risks of developing non-neoplastic circulatory system diseases, observed over a 30-year post-accident period (1992–2022). In the absence of ongoing radiation exposure, these findings suggest potential cause-and-effect relationships between radiation and disease development.
Keywords: evacuated persons, circulatory system diseases, disease structure, absolute risk, radiation effect.