Can I fly, Straight after a Heart Attack, TIA, or Stroke?

There are no current regulations concerning flying on a plane after a heart attack, TIA (transient ischaemic attack) or stroke. However – different airlines have their own recommendations regarding suitability. The first way forward is to contact the PMCU (passenger medical clearance unit) as they can advice on whether you are deemed fit enough to fly, as well as offering you guidance in completing the necessary documents,’ medical information (MEDIF).  You will be required to fill out section 1, and part 2 and 3 needs to be completed by your GP.  Ensure that you return the completed forms at least 3 weeks prior to your flight date, as this will allow sufficient time for you to receive medical clearance.

Can sitting in an aircraft cabin effect increase my risk?



You can be at risk from a subsequent illness but this will depend on your general health and how long you remain seated without exercising your legs. Firstly – The oxygen pressure in a planes cabin during flight is lower than sea level. Haemoglobin concentrations can rise through a decrease in the plasma volume – caused by dehydration, and Haemoglobin concentrations may rise to 200 g/l thus increasing blood viscosity and increased coagulability. These changes in blood can increase the risk of stroke and DVT (blood clot).


To cut down your risk – try not to sit in one position in the aircraft cabin over a long period, and drink plenty of fluids as dehydration can also cause blood to coagulate (thicken) thus increasing the risk of blood clots forming. Also – alcohol causes dehydration so it is best that you try and avoid it during your flight.

Flying after suffering a Heart Attack

Generally – you can fly within 2 weeks after a heart attack but this will solely depend on your recovery time and progress and whether you have suffered any further complications since the attack.

Flying after suffering a (TIA)

If you have suffered a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) you may be allowed to fly after a 10 day period but this is provided that you have made a complete recovery and been given complete medical clearance.

Flying after suffering a Stroke

As a rule of thumb – Doctors generally recommend waiting for at least 3 months before flying again after suffering a stroke. This is due to a vulnerability and increased risk of developing deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). DVT is a condition in which a blood clot forms in a large vein in a muscle – this is normally in the leg or pelvic region. A serious risk occurs when a fragment of this clot breaks off and becomes lodged in a blood vessel which supply’s the lungs – resulting in a pulmonary embolism (PE).


Am I still at risk if I have never suffered a heart attack, stoke, or TIA etc.?

People who have not suffered from a heart attack, TIA, or stroke are still at risk from developing a DVT during a flight, your risk may be lower but this still depends on your overall state of health. Your risk can be decreased by wearing ‘compression stockings’ (also known as TED or thrombo-embolic deterrent stockings) these are worn to maintain good circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots forming in leg veins. For further information you can obtain a Bupa health factsheet from their official website.


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