Heart Disease Expert Forum
Heart problems on airplanes
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Heart problems on airplanes


  I've heard stories about people who have complications from preexisting heart problems while flying.  For example, people who have arrhythmias seem to have bad episodes while flying and it seems like I've heard about a lot of people with heart disease having heart attacks while flying.  I know that the air pressure is different on airplanes and I was wondering if that has anything to do with people experiencing complications from heart problems while flying. I have a problem with PAC's and PVC's and I haven't flown since I've developed this problem.  I'm supposed to fly across the country in January. I'm concerned about how my heart will react.  Aside from people just being nervous about flying, is there another explaination for why people experience bad arrythmias and heart attacks or complications from other heart conditions on airplanes? Does it have something to do with the air pressure or the altitude?
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Dear  Lourdes,
Thank you for your question.  There is no known association between pressure changes and heart arrhythmias.  I think the people who get these on airplanes would have had them at the same time if they had been on the ground.  The main concern in airplanes is the delay in getting to medical care.  Have a good trip and don't worry about your PVC's.
I am sorry to hear of your father's heart attack.  While there is still a moderate mortality rate from heart attacks with modern medical care it has improved significantly.  It sounds as if your father is receiving the best of medical care and you are right in flying out to see him.  My prayers are with you and your dad at this difficult time.
I hope you find this information useful.  Information provided in the heart forum is for general purposes only.  Only your physician can provide specific diagnoses and therapies.  Please feel free to write back with additional questions.
If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at www.ccf.org/heartcenter.  The Heart Center website contains a directory of the cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your cardiac problem.





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