According to a new guideline issued by the British Cardiovascular Society (BCS), called Fitness to Fly, there are very few heart conditions that mean patients cannot fly safely. The report is the result of the working group formed by BCS in 2008, in response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

Dr. David Smith, a Consultant Cardiologist, Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust, led the working group, which included representation from Airlines, Aviation authorities, and cardiology experts.

Fitness to Fly includes a summary table of several specific heart conditions, and advice on any necessary guidance or restrictions for patient-passengers. It also has a thorough review and consideration of current evidence regarding heart conditions and flying.

Although most people with heart conditions can fly, the guideline advises patients to inform their airline of any pre-existing conditions and to follow their doctor’s advice regarding precautions when they fly.

Airlines still have the right to deny passage to a patient with a pre-existing heart condition; however, the BCS says that this new report provides clear and compelling evidence that in the majority of cases such denial is unnecessary.

The BCS wrote:

This will be of great use to the travelling public and to all healthcare professionals and will mean that thousands of heart patients will be able to travel by air, reassured that expert guidelines have shown that it is safe to do so.

The report will be published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) called Heart.

“Fitness to Fly for Passengers with Cardiovascular Disease” (PDF)
The report of a working group of the British Cardiovascular Society
Written by Christian Nordqvist