No need for heart patients to ground themselves

Here's an interesting piece by Brooke Minters who is working on the Health & Science desk this summer:

Would-be globetrotters with heart problems can take themselves off their self-imposed no-fly lists, according to the British Cardiovascular Society. Only the critically ill should not board a plane.

The thought of air travel has caused palpitations for many heart patients. But the report, published last week in the BMJ journal Heart, provides guidance for those planning to travel.
The biggest worry is the pressurized air — which leads to lower oxygen levels in the blood. Those lower levels “appear to have little or no adverse circulatory effects,” especially on flights lasting less than four hours, the report’s authors wrote.

Although the risk of blood clots doubles on long flights, it is the same for long bus, train, and car rides. Remember to get up and move around every couple of hours, and to stay hydrated — caffeine and alcohol don’t count.

The authors recommend that high-flying heart patients plan ahead. They should call the airline to make sure an oxygen tank is available on the plane. Pack needed medicine in a carry-on, as well as a doctor’s note explaining the condition. And arrive early to avoid extra stress.

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