Cardiovascular disease

If you suffer from a chronic illness, you should check your health before flying, making the flight safer for you and others.

Q1 I have heart problem can I travel safety by air?

A1 Despite the physiological changes that occur at altitude, the majority of patients with cardiac conditions can travel safely as long as they are cautioned to carry their medications in their hand baggage.

Angina Pectoris, if stable, is usually not a problem in flight.

Patients with a recent myocardial infarction may travel after 7 to 10 days if there are no complications and if the patient has undergone an exercise test which shows no residual ischemia or symptoms.

Coronary artery bypass grafting and other chest or thoracic surgery should prove no intrinsic risk in the aviation environment as long as the patient has fully recovered without complications. However, as air is transiently introduced into the thoracic cavity, there is a potential risk for barotrauma due to the gaseous expansion which occurs at altitude. It is therefore prudent that patients should wait until the air is reabsorbed, approximately 10 to 14 days before travelling by air.

Patients with uncomplicated percutaneous coronary interventions such as angioplasty with stent placement may be fit to travel after 5 days, but should be medically stable, and individual assessment is essential.

Symptomatic valvular heart disease is a relative contraindication to airline travel. Individual assessment by the treating physician is essential, paying particular attention to the functional status, severity of symptoms and left ventricular function, in addition to the presence or absence of pulmonary hypertension. There is no contraindication to air travel for patients with treated hypertension, as long as it is under satisfactory control and the patient is reminded to carry their medication with them on the flight.

Those with pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators may travel without problems by air once they are medically stable. Interaction with airline electronics or aviation security devices is highly unlikely for the most common bipolar configuration.