It's OK to Take a Long Plane Trip After a Heart Attack
"We conclude that long-distance flight aboard a commercial aircraft is reasonably safe within 2 to 3 weeks after an acute coronary syndrome, if the patient has no markers of high risk," the authors write.
David J. Frid, MD, director of preventive and rehabilitative cardiology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health in Columbus, says he has had about a dozen patients who flew home uneventfully within two weeks after an acute coronary event. "If the patient [has no symptoms] and we do an exercise test to rule out [other problems], then it should be safe," he says. "The plane is pressurized, and the oxygen levels are not high. You're probably at more risk running through the airport trying to catch the plane, or dragging a carry-on bag, than you are in the plane itself."
These patients are at a slightly higher risk of deep-vein thrombosis if they sit too long, Frid says. "So I also recommend that they don't sit in one spot for more than a few hours. Whether they're in a car or on a plane, they need to get up and walk around."
Maria Mileno, MD, director of the travel medicine service at the Miriam Hospital, Brown University School of Medicine, in Providence, R.I., also recommends that patients carry their medications on board with them. "It really helps if you have your own anti-angina drugs, since it's not standardized as to what drugs airlines ought to have on board an aircraft," Mileno says.
For more information from WebMD, see our Diseases and Conditions page on Heart Disease.