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ESC reaffirms advice on cardiovascular risks associated with long-haul flights
Date:2/24/2009

iovascular complications of long-haul flight, Professor Panos E Vardas, president elect of the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA), commenting on behalf of the ESC, notes that loss of consciousness can occur during flight, for either benign or malignant reasons. The most common causes of benign episodes, explains Professor Vardas, include vasovagal syncope (fainting), whose most frequent cause is low blood pressure, especially in elderly patients who are taking certain medications.

Professor Vardas continues: "In the case of malignant arrhythmias, the loss of consciousness is most commonly attributed to ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. Less dangerous cardiac arrhythmias which could also lead to loss of consciousness include paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter or paroxysmal atrial tachycardias.

The best course of action in the case of loss of consciousness is the currently recommended practice of ensuring that the patient remains in a lying down position, with the legs elevated. Simultaneously, if the syncopal episode lasts more than 30-40 seconds and if the automatic device advises defibrillation, the defibrillator should be activated.

Major European airlines already carry defibrillators and train their personnel to use them under the guidance of medical assistance on-ground. Hopefully, in the future,the use of automatic external defibrillators and the training of personnel will be extended to all commercial flights."

The European Society of Cardiology is currently preparing a policy statement on the safety of commercial air travel in cardiac patients.


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Contact: ESC Press Office
press@escardio.org
33-049-294-8627
European Society of Cardiology
Source:Eurekalert

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