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Guideline update
Managing passengers with stable respiratory disease planning air travel: British Thoracic Society recommendations
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  • Published on:
    SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? PULMONARY EMBOLISM AND AIR TRAVEL
    • Ioannis Pantazopoulos, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Pulmonologist-Intensivist Department of Emergency Medicine, General University Hospital of Larissa, Medical School, University of Thessaly, Greece

    The global increase in air travel, with over 3.97 billion people traveling by air each year, and the ageing population, increase the number of those with an illness who wish to travel (1). Even more, in countries like Greece with hundreds of islands, health professionals are frequently asked to assess a patient’s fitness to fly. Doctors can receive advice and guidance mainly from two sources: the IATA passenger medical clearance guidelines (2) and the Aerospace Medical Association in which the British Thoracic Society’s recommendations for air travel (3) are suggested.
    Many respiratory conditions can affect a passenger’s fitness to fly with pulmonary embolism being the most debatable (3). A major question that respiratory physicians frequently have to answer, mostly with visitors from overseas who need to be repatriated following diagnosis of pulmonary embolism, is about the right time to “fly with a clot”. The British Thoracic Society guidelines recommend against airline travel during the first four weeks following pulmonary embolism (3). On the other hand, in the IATA medical guidelines published in 2018 it is suggested that patients can fly 5 days after an acute pulmonary embolism episode, if they receive anticoagulation and their PaO2 is normal on room air (2). Although there is little scientific evidence to support the above mentioned recommendations, the huge difference in the suggested period can really confuse healthcare professionals. Moreover, asking patie...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.