Can you fly after heart surgery?

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Heart surgery, also known as cardiac or cardiovascular surgery, is used to treat a variety of heart problems. The majority of heart surgeries are major operations. Although they are frequently successful, they do involve risks.

The key points to remember if you have to fly after heart surgery:

If you have recently had a heart surgery, long-distance air travel may be restricted. Discuss your travel plans with your doctor before booking any flight. Before you can fly, you may need to obtain a medical clearance certificate. Charter our air ambulance services to make the most of your chances and avoid potentially life-threatening complications.

What is heart surgery?

Heart surgery refers to any procedure that involves your heart or the blood vessels that connect to it. Your healthcare provider may recommend such surgery if lifestyle changes, medications, or other procedures have proven ineffective.

heart attack patient

People of all ages can undergo heart surgery. It can repair problems that you were born with (congenital heart disease) or problems that develop later in life (heart attack). The type of heart surgery you receive depends on the underlying problem or combination of problems.

Heart surgery can range from minimally invasive procedures to open-heart procedures which may require a longer recovery period. according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (US), the most common cardiac surgeries are:

  • Maze surgery
  • Heart transplant
  • Aneurysm repair
  • Heart valve repair or replacement
  • Transcatheter structural heart surgery
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)
  • Insertion of a ventricular assist device (VAD) or total artificial heart (TAH)
  • Insertion of a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

Is heart surgery dangerous?

Heart surgery is a complex procedure that can improve heart function and circulation while also giving you a new lease on life. However, it can be linked to a number of complications, which vary depending on the severity of your heart condition, the type of surgery, and your overall health.

Among the risks of heart surgery are:

  • Bleeding
  • Pneumonia
  • Arrhythmias
  • Reactions to anesthesia
  • Damage to the heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs
  • Blood clots that can cause a stroke or venous thromboembolism (VTE)
  • Swelling, fever, infection or other signs of inflammation at the incision site

Death is also a risk of heart surgery. However, it is more likely to be life-threatening if the procedure is performed in an emergency or if you have another medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease, or peripheral artery disease (PAD).

How soon after heart surgery can you fly?

The type of surgery you had, your overall health prior to the surgery, and whether you experienced any surgical complications will all influence the length of your recovery time. Full recovery from a traditional CABG, for example, could take 6 to 12 weeks or more.

commercial plane

And here's how soon flying after a surgery is advised:

  • Angioplasty (heart stent): after a few days
  • Insertion of a pacemaker: after a few days or 2 weeks if you suffer from a pneumothorax
  • ICD: after a few days or until you are considered stable again if the ICD has delivered a shock
  • Heart valve repair, replacement surgery, or CABG: 4-6 weeks (longer after pulmonary complications).

What are the risks of flying too soon after heart surgery?

Even if your cardiologist has officially cleared you to fly, keep in mind that severe stress and fatigue can have a negative impact on your cardiovascular health long after the other physical effects of your heart surgery have healed.

Due to the confined space, low oxygen concentration, dehydration, changes in air pressure, high altitude, and the potential for increased stress, air travel after a recent heart surgery can be risky. Remember that some of these factors can compound each other's negative effects on your health and lead to one of the most serious risks for people flying with a with heart disease. i.e. deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Confined space: Prolonged immobility and dehydration during the flight may increase your chances of developing a blood clot, which could lead to a heart attack or stroke. If you have arrhythmia, coronary artery disease (CAD), or a heart device implanted, such as an artificial heart valve or a coronary stent, your risks are multiplied.

passengers on commercial flights

Low oxygen levels: The reduced oxygen pressure in airplane cabins can result in less-than-optimal oxygen concentration in your body if you have heart disease (hypoxia). This worsens the effects of pre-existing heart conditions like CAD and pulmonary hypertension.

Dehydration: Caused by high altitude cabin pressure, it can affect your blood pressure, exacerbating heart disease. This is especially troubling if you have heart failure, CAD, or an arrhythmia.

Changes in air pressure: They can cause gas expansion in the body, resulting in barotraumas which can cause serious lung or heart damage if you are recovering from recent heart surgery.

Stress: If you experience stress as a result of generalized anxiety about traveling or unexpected turbulence on your flight, your hypertension or CAD may worsen.

Our air ambulances: your safe patient transfer services

When transferring post-heart surgery patients over long distances, it is critical to look for aeromedical services that ensure comfort, safety, and well-being throughout the journey.

As your trusted air ambulance service provider, we understand that postoperative patient care can be unpredictable, which is why our air ambulances carry all of the latest medical devices and medications needed to deal with the patient's condition during their transfer. Furthermore, skilled doctors are present with the patient so that if an emergency arises, it can be treated by a specialist who is familiar with the situation. We also provide safe and professional patient transfers in and out of ground ambulances.

While all of these factors are important, friendly behavior in healthcare is also important because it allows patients to trust and rely on us for their safety. Our expert ground and air crews in charge of your long-distance patient transportation are compassionate, so the patient can relax while receiving quality care.

ambulance jet

What are the benefits of our air ambulances?

Our air transfer services are quick and dependable. Moreover, we:

Use the latest technology: Our medical jets are outfitted with cutting-edge technology that can handle the most difficult cases and provide patients with the most advanced care available. Air ambulances transporting patients with critical cardiac conditions are equipped with a wide range of medications and portable equipment, including cardiac monitors, defibrillators, ventilators, pulse oximetry, and blood gas analyzers.

Offer wide-ranging and comprehensive services: We offer commercial medical escort services, commercial stretcher services, and bed-to-bed services to deal with various situations and meet your various needs.

Work with a cordial team of professionals and experts: It is critical to surround the patient with people who can put them at ease while also providing the best care possible. Our multilingual medical staff is warm and welcoming, and they will go out of their way to make you feel safe and secure.

Contact us for an air ambulance to fly safely after your heart surgery!

Contact us if you have a medical condition that prevents you from flying commercially or are concerned about potential complications that may occur mid-flight. We have a team of aviation experts ready to advise you on the best solution based on your requirements and begin planning your medical flight.

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