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Heart emergencies on planes need better treatment, say doctors

From BBC - June 4, 2017

Airlines should carry more medical equipment for dealing with in-flight cardiac arrests, say doctors.

Such events are rare but account for the majority of deaths on flights, figures reveal.

A task force says electrocardiograms (ECGs) and defibrillators should be available on all aircraft.

About 1,000 people a year die from cardiac arrest in the air, according to data presented at a medical meeting in Geneva.

Although cardiac arrests make up less than 1% of all in-flight medical emergencies, they can have particularly serious consequences.

Doctors led by Prof Jochen Hinkelbein of the University of Cologne, Germany, and president of the German Society for Aerospace Medicine, have drawn up new proposals for cardiac arrest on plane journeys. They include:

Prof Hinkelbein said: "This is the first guideline providing specific treatment recommendations for in-flight medical emergencies during commercial air travel.

"This is of major importance to recommend proper actions and procedures since the airplane environment as well as equipment will be significantly different to what can be provided for medical emergencies on the ground."

The experts say they will be contacting individual airlines directly and asking them to incorporate the guidelines into their emergency procedures.

Space medicine

Medics are also turning their attention to developing protocols for dealing with heart emergencies in space.

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