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Photo of people flying on an airplaneA heart attack can suspend your everyday life. Things you hadn't thought about yesterday, like air travel, are now questionable. Are you able to fly after a heart attack? Do you need to let your flight attendant know about your heart condition? How long should you wait before traveling altogether?​

In general, flying after a heart attack and stent doesn't pose great risk. But there are some precautions you must take before boarding your next airplane.

Do not fly if:

Because aircraft fly at higher altitudes, where oxygen levels are lower, the cabin of the plane is pressurized to the equivalent of approximately 8,000 feet above sea level. This altitude is typically tolerated well by healthy passengers, but cardiac patients may experience difficulty breathing, lightheadedness and chest pain. Discuss travel plans with your doctor to ensure you are cleared to fly.

Air travel guidelines suggest the following pre-flight checklist:​

  • Stow all your medications in your carry-on luggage, rather than your checked bags
  • Bring a copy of your medical history with you
  • Carry a list of phone numbers for your doctor(s) and family members
  • To avoid blood clots, or deep venous thrombosis, in-flight:
    • ​Consider wearing compression stockings, avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water
    • Request aisle seating, which lets you easily get up and walk around without disturbing other passengers
  • Confirm whether your medical insurance covers medical evacuation; if it does not, consider purchasing medical evacuation insurance for your trip

Why The Heart Hospital?

Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano offers one of only two heart specialty emergency departments in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex​​. The emergency cardiac care department also features a "No Wait Triage," where guests are seen within three minutes of arrival. The physicians on our medical staff are highly skilled in treating heart attacks and other cardiovascular emergencies, and our teams are as equally trained in all critical emergencies as well.

Any information and advice is given on a generalized, generic basis, and is not specific to any individual patient's condition. Use of this material is helpful in making you informed about health care issues and cannot replace a health professional-patient relationship. You should always consult with a professional for diagnosis and treatment of any specific health problems. You should not disregard any advice or treatment plan from your health professional based on your interpretation of what you may read in this material.

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