What happens if you have a heart attack or other medical emergency on a plane?
If a passenger experiences a medical emergency, the flight crew will take their vitals, assess the likelihood of the causes of chest pain, and contact ground medical assistance for advice. The flight crew, medical volunteers and ground medical assistance can make recommendations, but the decision to divert the aircraft is ultimately up to the pilot and flight dispatcher.

The decision to divert the aircraft to land at another destination due to a medical emergency may be appropriate for specific medical emergencies, but many other factors must be considered.

What happens in the event of a heart attack or other medical emergency on board an aircraft?

Cardiovascular symptoms account for approximately 7% of in-flight medical emergencies. If a passenger experiences chest pain, the flight crew will intervene, measure vital signs and assess the likelihood of the causes of chest pain.

The risk of thromboembolism (deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism) is increased, especially for long flights. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a heart attack and a mid-flight pulmonary embolism, but both require more specialized treatment at a medical center.

What should flight attendants do?

In the event of a medical emergency, the flight crew informs the ground medical service for advice. “Flight crew members are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and are able to administer life-saving drugs and equipment available in emergency kits. The flight crew may also request assistance from other passengers who are qualified medical professionals.

How fast can planes land in a medical emergency?

The decision to divert the aircraft to land at another destination due to a medical emergency may be appropriate for specific medical emergencies, but many other factors must be considered. The flight crew, medical volunteers and ground medical assistance can make recommendations, but the decision to divert the aircraft is ultimately up to the pilot and flight dispatcher.

Landing from cruising altitude can take 30 minutes. It is important to make timely decisions and transport the patient to a hospital capable of performing percutaneous coronary intervention in order to avoid complications of myocardial infarction.

How to reduce heart complications on planes

People with chronic cardiovascular disease should discuss travel with their doctor and take their medications regularly. If they are at risk of oxygen deficiency, they may need supplemental oxygen to fly. Finally, for long duration flights, it is recommended to do calf exercises inside the seat or walk in the aisle to avoid deep vein thrombosis. If you have heart problems, you should discuss with your cardiologist whether it is safe to fly. Make sure you have all your medications with you.

Also, the change in oxygen can negatively impact patients with COPD, congestive heart failure, and arrhythmia. In general, a heart attack is not caused by theft. The patient usually suffers from a blockage or clot of which he is unaware. Any stress can trigger a heart attack.

To remember

If a passenger has a heart condition, the flight crew will take their vitals, review chest pain, and contact ground medical assistance for next steps.
The flight crew, medical volunteers and ground medical assistance may make suggestions, but the decision to divert the aircraft is ultimately up to the pilot and flight dispatcher. Diverting the aircraft due to a medical emergency may be appropriate for specific medical emergencies, but many other factors must be considered.
For people with cardiovascular complications, it is essential to discuss travel and medication with their doctor.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.