If you’re one of the many people in the USA or worldwide who lives with a pacemaker, you probably want to know if you can fly with a pacemaker or whether your travel plans will be affected.
Thankfully, yes, you can fly with a pacemaker, but there are a few additional things you should know, including what you should do if you have been fitted with a new pacemaker, how you should handle airport security, whether altitude, short haul and long haul flights make a difference, and more.
How Long Can You Fly With a Pacemaker? (Short Haul vs. Long Haul)
If you are fitted with a pacemaker, you will be pleased to know that you can fly both short haul and long haul. There are practically no limits to where you can fly too based on distance, either domestically or internationally.
The only thing to note is that you should have the device settings checked and then reset if necessary after travel, especially if you were flying long-haul. It can be a good idea to deactivate a programmed sleep rate when changing time zones, too.
Can You Go Through Airport Security With a Pacemaker?
Every passenger will have to go through airport security before they are able to board their plane. If you have a pacemaker, there are a couple of things you should be aware of.
Firstly, to help make the process go as smoothly as possible, make sure that you bring your Medical Device ID Card and Patient Security Card with you, which identifies you as having a pacemaker and will make life easier when you have to explain why the metal detector alarm went off.
If a TSA agent wants to use a handheld security wand, be aware that if it is held over your pacemaker for too long, it may affect the device, though this would likely only be temporary. So politely ask the agent to pass over your device with the wand quickly. Full-body scanners are perfectly fine to go through.
Do High Altitudes Affect Pacemakers?
Extremely high altitudes may have an effect on pacemakers, but when flying, the altitude will make no difference.
This is because despite commercial airliners like the Boeing 747 cruising at 35,000 feet, airplane cabins are pressurized to 8,000 feet, which isn’t high enough to have any kind of negative effect.
Can You Fly With a New Pacemaker?
According to a German study, “if necessary, flying is possible 2 days after an uncomplicated implantation if pneumothorax can be excluded”.
Of course, it would be best to ask and follow the recommendations of your cardiologist, though.
Check In With Your Doctor
One last thing we will say is that while it is perfectly safe to fly with a pacemaker in most circumstances, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor.
If you’ve recently undergone surgery, an episode of ill health, or anything else has recently changed in your health, it’s best to get the all clear from your doctor before you fly.