Having a heart condition can make the prospect flying seem daunting, but getting the facts will help ease any anxieties you may have.
Here’s a quick guide to air travel for travellers with a heart condition or who’ve recently suffered a heart attack or undergone cardiac surgery?
Having a heart attack or other cardiac issue won’t always leave you grounded
The British Cardiovascular Society has published guidelines on air travel for those suffering from heart-related. The report concludes the vast majority of people with a stable heart condition are free to travel safely, although some will need help in the airport and additional in-flight oxygen.
Passengers with more severe heart disease or an unstable condition may have to delay flying until a time their health improves.
Anyone with a heart condition should check with their doctor before booking tickets.
General guide to flying with specific heart conditions
Here’s the guide to various heart-related conditions and how they might affect your fitness to fly. This is for guidance only, please speak to a medical professional before booking your tickets.
Find out when it’s good to fly after a heart event
Angina and flying
Provided your symptoms are stable – chest pain is prompted by gentle physical exertion – angina is unlikely to affect your ability to travel by air. However, if you have unstable angina – when chest pain occurs at rest – there is a chance you may not be able to fly.
Heart attack (myocardial infarction)and flying
Those who’ve had a heart attack can often travel by air 7 – 10 days after the event, providing there have not been complications. If the blocked artery has been successfully unblocked – using techniques such as angioplasty – it’s possible this can be reduced to just 2 – 3 days.
Heart failure and flying
This condition occurs when a weakened heart is unable to pump blood as effectively as it should. The majority of people suffering from heart failure are able to fly – providing the condition is stable and well-managed.
If breathlessness is a problem under gentle exercise, assistance at the airport and additional in-flight medication could be required. Speak to the airline concerned. If breathlessness develops when at rest, it is possible that permission to fly may be denied.
Pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD) and flying
Being fitted with a pacemaker or ICD should pose no barrier to flying. Modern devices are designed not to be affected by security screening equipment at airports and will not impact on in-flight electronic systems.
It is possible the implanted devices could set off security alarms, so carrying a letter from your doctor to confirm you’ve been fitted with the equipment could save delays at the airport.
Your doctor is likely to charge from £10 – £30 for such documentation.
Heart surgery and flying
If you’ve recently had major surgery, such as a coronary artery bypass or replacement of a heart valve, you should wait at least 10 days – and until you can manage normal daily activities before flying. You may need to ask for additional help at the airport with carrying heavy baggage or travelling around the airport.
High blood pressure (hypertension) and flying
Blood pressure should not be affected by flying – leaving no reason to prevent sufferers from checking in. However, it is advisable to put off travel until the blood pressure is controlled and treatment is stable.
FLYING WITH MEDICATION? MAKE SURE YOU’RE UP TO DATE WITH AIRPORT SECURITY RULES
Use this checklist to ensure your fight is as comfortable and safe as possible…
Fly with confidence after a heart event with the help of this checklist
Get fully insured
Suitable insurance is essential for anyone planning to travel, but additionally so for those with known medical conditions such as heart problems. It is also important that travellers fully and honestly disclose their condition when purchasing insurance, as failure to do so could leave them without any cover.
Finding travel insurance can be expensive and frustrating for those with heart conditions, but choosing a specialist provider will help cut costs and insure a reliable level of cover.
Don’t pack essential medicines or sprays in your hold luggage – carrying it in your hand luggage will ensure it’s instantly available should you need it. If possible, keep your medications in their original packaging to avoid problems at airport security desks. Carrying a copy of your repeat prescription will help speed up proceedings if you need to obtain more medication when abroad.
Book meet and greet parking
This airport parking service is ideal for those suffering from heart problems or recovering from recent surgery. Drive straight to the terminal in the comfort of your own vehicle and head straight to the check-in desks while your car’s parked for you. It’s just as easy on your return. No need for transfer buses – you’ll be met on your return.