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'Flying is safe for heart patients'

Most people with heart conditions can fly safely, experts said today, following years of confusion over the issue.

New guidelines said only a few conditions are likely to warrant restrictions.

The document from the British Cardiac Society (BCS) follows a 2007 report which called for specific guidance for passengers, doctors and airlines.

Fears have been raised in the past over whether people with heart conditions should fly, particularly those who may be affected by reduced levels of oxygen in the plane's cabin.

But the new guidance says there is "no significant threat" to heart patients from air travel -- and certainly not for medium or short-haul flights. Even those with the most severe conditions can still fly if they follow the guidelines closely.



STOCKINGS

Some patients are advised they may need in-flight oxygen while those at high risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are told to take extra precautions, including wearing pressure stockings and taking a blood thinner other than aspirin.

Writing in the journal Heart, experts said: "It is clear that there are few cardiovascular conditions that warrant the denial of fitness to fly as a passenger.

"Given the right aircraft, on-board equipment and appropriately qualified and experienced escort personnel, aircraft can act as flying intensive care units and carry extremely ill passengers."

Airlines can refuse to carry sick passengers and people are advised to warn their airline if they have a condition.

hnews@herald.ie


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