Patients who suffer from congestive heart failure (CHF) have several recommendations regarding traveling and transportation. The increasing popularity of air flights demands to follow special requirements in utilizing passengers with cardiovascular diseases. As most commercial aircraft fly at an altitude between 22000 and 44000 feet above sea level, people with cardiovascular diseases are highly affected by decreased atmospheric pressure and humidity, gas expansion, extended immobility, and increased physical and emotional stress (Hammadah et al., 2017). Moreover, passengers with underlying heart failure could face increased hypoxia due to lower baseline oxygen levels at altitude. Hammadah et al. (2017) say that air flight conditions impact the blood circulation, including local vasodilatation of coronary and cerebral vascular beds, and vasoconstriction in the pulmonary vascular beds. Along with immobilization during air travel, people also experience fear and anxiety related to landing and security measures. All the factors mentioned above drastically influence patience with CHF and other heart diseases.
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To avoid complications and exacerbations, patients with CHF should keep specific rules during air flights. In addition to that, air companies should prepare special medical equipment and provide instructions to staff. For example, Hammadah et al. (2017) state that general oxygen supplementation is needed on the plane, while Koh (2021) claims that support equipment such as the left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is required. Furthermore, passengers with the following health conditions are advised to have full-range observation 4-6 weeks before air travel (Koh, 2021). Hammadah et al.(2017) recommend using personal transport at the airport to diminish pre-travel exertion. Consuming in-flight food, including alcohol and caffeine, is also not recommended because of the high concentration of sodium in content. Following these suggestions help to reduce risks during air travel.
Hammadah, M., Kindya, B. R., Allard‐Ratick, M. P., Jazbeh, S., Eapen, D., Wilson Tang, W. H., & Sperling, L. (2017). Navigating air travel and cardiovascular concerns: Is the sky the limit? Clinical Cardiology, 40(9), 660–666.
Koh, C. H. (2021). Commercial Air Travel for Passengers With Cardiovascular Disease: Recommendations for Common Conditions. Current Problems in Cardiology, 46(3), 100768.