How soon after a stroke would it be okay to fly?

A fellow caregiver asked...

How soon after a stroke would it be okay to fly?

Expert Answer

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

I'm glad you asked. The question of flying after a stroke comes up frequently in my practice, and I'm not sure why.

The bottom line is that the main risks are that you would be out of contact of medical services for several hours, and that the location you are traveling to may not be equipped to deal with a stroke if one were to occur. Otherwise, there is virtually no reason why a stroke victim would not be able to fly. The oxygen change on the plane is typically not enough to cause any worsening of symptoms.

Therefore, as a general rule, I tell people to wait one week from the time of their stroke (long enough that the chances of a second stroke are very low) before flying.

As always, please check with your doctor just in case there are any special circumstances of which I am unaware.