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Medical events while flying on the increase

Medical events in people flying on commercial flights are becoming increasingly common, according to a report.

The number of medical incidents is rising on flights because a growing number of people with pre-existing medical conditions fly. It is also due to newer planes, such as the Airbus A380 which extend flying times to 18-20 hours, U.S. researchers say.

The information below will give you even more motivation to negotiate the aisle seat. Unfortunately, it won’t help you justify going business class. :)

The impact of flying study

Researchers found a number of medical issues that are associated with flying on commercial flights.

  • Decreased oxygen saturation. Passengers that have pre-existing cardiac, pulmonary and blood conditions already have reduced oxygen saturation. Reduced cabin pressure further reduces the oxygen saturation in the blood. This decreased oxygen saturation can worsen some medical conditions.
  • Deep vein thrombosis. Flying is associated with DVT and researchers found flights over 8 hours carried the highest risk. However, there was no difference between business class and economy class seats. The greatest frequency of DVT was in people who did not sit in the aisle.
  • Jet lag. Researchers found travelers have greater difficulty falling asleep after an eastward travel than after a westward travel. Our internal clock has a natural tendency to resist shortening the 24 hour day cycle.
  • Spread of infectious diseases. Passengers spend a long time in an enclosed space, which increases the spread of infectious diseases. Several outbreaks of infectious diseases have been reported on commercial airlines, including influenza, measles, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and tuberculosis.

The most common in flight medical events were cardiac and neurological. Passengers over 70 years have the highest rate of in-flight medical events. The average age of passengers with an in-flight medical event is 44 years for men and 49 years for women.

The study by researchers at the Lahey Clinic Medical Center, U.S was published in The Lancet.

What can you do when flying?

The researchers suggest walking regularly in the aisles or moving your feet about when you are sitting. They also suggest to avoid alcohol and caffeine, but to drink lots of water. People with heart problems should visit their doctor before flying.

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About Kellie

Kellie is 37 years old and together with her brother Steve makes up the My Health Software team.

She helps on the websites and gathering news for the programs. Kellie worked in the medical industry prior to having her two children (8 and 6) and has a strong interest in self awareness and management of health conditions.


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