C.A. DeJohn, S.J.H. Veronneau, and B.C. Wilcox
FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute
P.O. Box 25082
Oklahoma City, OK 73125-5066

The FAA is investigating accidents resulting from heart attacks in flight as part of an ongoing research task to study the epidemiology of inflight incapacitation.

The CAMI Consolidated Data Base (CDB), which contains the Accident and Incident Data System, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Consolidated Airman Information System databases were searched for heart-attack related events from 1982 to 1991. Events were stratified by type of operation, pathological (path) code, and further classified as accidents or incidents.

Forty-four inflight incapacitations, including 33 accidents and 11 incidents, occurred between 1982 and 1991. Seven path codes considered to be antecedent conditions in heart attack cases were identified including myocardial infarction, angioplasty, coronary artery by-pass surgery, coronary artery disease (CAD), atrial fibrillation, hypertension (HTN) , and diabetes. Nine of the 44 pilots who had an accident or incident during the period of the study had one or more of the identified antecedent conditions.

Cardiovascular antecedent conditions are present in approximately 1/5 of pilots involved in heart-attack related aircraft accidents and incidents.