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Friday, December 19, 2008

Lung Disease sufferers Must be careful in flights

Health News

Dec 15, 2008, 2:07 GMT

Werne, Germany - A simple flight on a plane can be problematic for people who suffer from certain lung conditions.

This is particularly true of lung disease sufferers, especially those with either chronic bronchitis, known to doctors as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or cystic fibrosis, said experts from Germany's leading pulmonary and respiratory society (DGP) in Werne in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The problem arises due to the lower level of oxygen on board commercial aircraft at flight altitude. The air can contain some 30 per cent less oxygen which is a serious matter for patients whose blood oxygen level is already precarious because of their respiratory condition.

To compensate for the lack of oxygen, a sufferer's heart rate increases and according to the DGP, such patients need more oxygen than healthy passengers to maintain the normal function of heart, lungs and brain. In some cases, the use of bottled oxygen is necessary.

As a general rule, patients should avoid unnecessary movement while on board since such activity leads to an increase of oxygen usage. To avoid a possible thrombosis, a potentially fatal blood clot, certain seated exercises can be carried out.

Patients who suffer from lung disease to the extent that they cannot walk 50 metres without getting excessively breathless should not fly at all.
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