After declining for a few decades, heart problems are once again on the rise, thanks to an aging population and obesity. At the same time air travel for business and leisure continues to increase with more than 2.2 billion domestic trips forecast for 2019. As a result, more heart patients are faced with the question, “Is it safe for me to fly?”
“In general, if your heart condition is stable, you should be able to fly,” says McLeod Cardiologist Dr. Anil Om. “For patients who have recently undergone a procedure or changed medication, it’s best to check with your cardiologist and make a plan.”
BEFORE YOU FLY
Appropriate preparations will help make your trip both enjoyable and successful. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
SPECIFIC HEART PATIENTS
Certain patients should delay air travel after a procedure, including:
Remember, these are only guidelines. It is safest to verify with your cardiologist.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE ON THE PLANE
If you have made the appropriate preparations, there’s not much to worry about during the flight…except deep vein thrombosis, blood clots in your legs often caused by long periods of sitting. Individuals with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or congestive heart failure are especially susceptible to this problem. You can help avoid DVTs by 1) getting out of your seat and walking a bit once per hour and 2) wearing compression stockings.
The airplane cabin has very low humidity of 20% or less, compared to a normal house of 40%-50%. This can lead to dry air passages. Be sure to stay hydrated. To make sure you don’t have to wait for beverage service, carry a bottle of water onto the plane.
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Sources include: McLeod Health, International Association for Medical Assistance for Travelers, American Heart Association, Travel Medicine & Infectious Disease Journal, National Institutes of Health