Management of cardiac conduction abnormalities and arrhythmia in aircrew

Heart. 2019 Jan;105(Suppl 1):s38-s49. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2018-313057.


Cardiovascular diseases i are the most common cause of loss of flying licence globally, and cardiac arrhythmia is the main disqualifier in a substantial proportion of aircrew. Aircrew ii often operate within a demanding physiological environment, that potentially includes exposure to sustained acceleration (usually resulting in a positive gravitational force, from head to feet (+Gz)) in high performance aircraft. Aeromedical assessment is complicated further when trying to discriminate between benign and potentially significant rhythm abnormalities in aircrew, many of whom are young and fit, have a resultant high vagal tone, and among whom underlying cardiac disease has a low prevalence. In cases where a significant underlying aetiology is plausible, extensive investigation is often required and where appropriate should include review by an electrophysiologist. The decision regarding restriction of flying activity will be dependent on several factors including the underlying arrhythmia, associated pathology, risk of incapacitation and/or distraction, the type of aircraft operated, and the specific flight or mission criticality of the role performed by the individual aircrew.

Keywords: cardiac arrhythmias and resuscitation science; catheter ablation; ecg/electrocardiogram; electrophysiology; health care delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerospace Medicine / methods*
  • Aircraft*
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy*
  • Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy / methods*
  • Disease Management*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart Conduction System / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Military Personnel


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents