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Heart attack on holiday: transport home

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Heart attack on holiday: transport home

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A holiday is supposed to put one's heart at ease: holidaymakers can enjoy new experiences, relax in any way they please or plunge themselves into leisure activities. Unfortunately, a holiday can also strain the heart, especially if it is already in a weakened state. That is why heart attacks may occur rather more frequently on holiday.

Heart attack

After acute care has been given at the holiday location, many heart attack patients wish to have the further treatment at home. This is especially true when patients are abroad and find themselves facing lower medical standards there. Therefore, in many cases it is advisable to return home for further treatment.

Why are heart attacks so common on holiday?

People who already have stressful jobs will tend to do everything they can to complete all important projects in the last few days before their holiday begins. This stress places great strain on their heart, which then makes them vulnerable – even during the first few days of the holiday when travellers feel their stress slowly receding.

Other holidaymakers are too ambitious during their holiday: an exhausting journey or strenuous leisure activities undertaken without regard to their own health and fitness can strain their heart to the limit – or beyond. Finally, there is often a marked difference between the climate at the holiday location and the climate at home. Whether sun and heat on the beach, or thin air and severe cold on a mountain peak, an extreme change can be difficult for the heart to cope with.

Medical repatriation after a heart attack

A heart attack needs to be treated promptly. You should therefore immediately alert the emergency services if you suspect you are having a heart attack, even on holiday. The acute treatment for heart attack must be carried out as quickly as possible and must therefore be given in the holiday country. After that, you must stay in the hospital for a few days and must be gently mobilised again, step by step. This is followed by several weeks of rehabilitation treatment to reintegrate you back into everyday life.

Many patients would rather have this follow-up treatment in their own country: communication with staff in the hospital and rehabilitation ward is much easier in their own language. It is also easier for relatives to provide support when they are close by, and they can help the patient get back to normal life more easily. Another vital factor for many heart attack patients is the excellent medical care that they can expect in their home country. Such quality of care cannot be guaranteed in many popular holiday countries. Accordingly, patients often wish to return home as soon as possible.

The best way to get the patient home

After a heart attack, the patient needs to be transported quickly and gently. This means that some of the usual means of transport for medical repatriations are not suitable. Transport on board a scheduled airliner requires a lead time of several days and it is therefore not fast enough. Travelling in a ground ambulance puts strain on the patient due to long journey times and it is therefore also not recommended. Heart attack patients can only be repatriated safely by air ambulance or helicopter.

Medical repatriation in an ambulance aircraft

Ambulance aircraft are most frequently used to safely bring heart attack patients’ home. They can be deployed at short notice anywhere in the world, often on the same day or the next. As ambulance aircraft can also land on the shorter runways of regional airports, the departure and destination airports can be chosen based on the needs of the patient. As a result, the required ground transports between the hospital and airport can remain short, both in the holiday country and in the home country, and the patient is not placed under unnecessary strain. The range and speed of an ambulance jet mean that patients can easily be transported long distances.

The patient is looked after by an experienced flight doctor during the flight. The medical equipment available to the doctor is comparable to that of a modern intensive care unit – for example, a multi-parameter intensive care monitor, a twelve-channel multifunction ECG, a biphasic defibrillator, and an external pacemaker. Emergency medications such as adrenaline, anticoagulants and beta blockers are also always carried on board in sufficient quantities.

Medical repatriation in a helicopter

For shorter distances, a patient transport in a helicopter can be a sensible option. In contrast to an ambulance aircraft, a helicopter can usually fly directly from hospital to hospital making ground transports unnecessary. However, a helicopter has distinct disadvantages in terms of range and speed, so it is not suitable for longer distances. Helicopters are mainly used for short domestic flights or patient transfers in the border areas between two countries.

Here, too, a specialised doctor, supported by modern intensive care equipment, takes care of the patient during the flight. Therefore, the medical safety of the heart attack patient is always ensured in the helicopter.

Will the insurance cover the costs?

If you require a medical repatriation following a heart attack, you should contact your travel insurance provider. In each individual case the insurance company will decide whether the costs will be taken over or not. If the patient does not have travel insurance with medical cover, the costs must be borne privately.

The insurance company checks in each case what medical care would be available in the holiday country. If adequate care is not available, then repatriation of the patient is considered medically necessary and the costs will be borne. On the other hand, if treatment is possible locally but treatment at home would simply promise better results, the case will be classified as medically reasonable. In this case, some insurance companies will still bear the costs, while many others would refuse to cover them. If the insurance company concludes that the case is neither medically necessary nor medically reasonable, the patient cannot rely on the insurance company paying the costs.

What is the cost of a medical repatriation after a heart attack?

The cost of medical repatriation for a heart attack patient depends largely on the distance to be covered. On the one hand, the distance affects the fuel consumption and the associated costs. On the other hand, the distance to be covered also determines the means of transport used.

Another important factor affecting the cost is the desired number of accompanying persons. One relative can usually travel with the patient at no additional cost. If more people need to fly with the patient, a larger plane or helicopter may be required. This also leads to increased costs. We always calculate the costs for each repatriation individually and we will be happy to provide you with a non-binding cost estimate upon request.

Medical repatriation with Medical Repatriation UK

We are your reliable partner for medical repatriation and can swiftly and safely bring you back home after a heart attack emergency. Our ambulance aircraft and helicopters are stationed all over the world and they can therefore be deployed close to you at short notice. Our international team can overcome all language barriers for you, and we will organise your transport within a very short time.

Upon request, we can offer you our tried and tested bed-to-bed service: we will pick you up from the hospital in a ground ambulance or emergency vehicle and take you safely to the airport, where the ambulance aircraft will already be waiting, ready to take off. An ambulance or emergency vehicle will also be waiting at the destination airport to drive you safely to the receiving hospital or the intended rehabilitation clinic.

Contact us now for your medical repatriation

If you require a swift medical repatriation after a heart attack on holiday, we are here for you. Our 24-hour service is available to assist you at any time and we can advise you on your options free of charge. Please contact us: