Lufthansa takes inflight healthcare to heart

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June 12, 2019
Lufthansa ECG heart
A flight attendant with the ECG unit. Photo: Lufthansa.

Heart problems are a common cause of medical incidents on aircraft but new technology introduced by Lufthansa makes a crucial early diagnosis quicker and easier.

The German carrier has introduced a mobile electrocardiogram (ECG) system to all its long-haul aircraft that allows flight attendants without cardiological expertise to record and send test results to the ground.

The airline, which tested the system in 2018 on its Airbus A380 fleet, says the CardioSecur system weighs just 50 grams and consists of an app on a flight attendant’s mobile device — in this case a mini-iPad — along with a bag with an ECG cable and four disposable electrodes.

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It is the first airline to adopt the system across long-haul aircraft and says it allows cabin crew to record an ECG in a few short steps.

This begins by establishing an internet connection through the onboard Wi-Fi before starting the app and attaching the electrodes to the upper body of the unwell passenger.

The app records a 12-lead ECG while additional parameters such as age, weight, gender, blood pressure and oxygen saturation are captured manually.

This data is transferred from the app to the hotline of Lufthansa’s medical partner, International SOS (ISOS). Where experts can evaluate it and advise crew. It can also be used by any doctors on board the plane.

“The results of the resting ECG conducted directly onboard the aircraft provide a better basis for deciding whether it is necessary to divert a plane in order to provide medical care on the ground in case of medical emergencies,” ’’ said Lufthansa Medical Service cardiologist Dr. Sven-Karsten Peters.

Lufthansa is also the first European airline to offer a medical travel assistance service in cooperation with the service provider Medical Travel Companion.

The airline said passengers could choose to book either a nurse, a paramedic or a doctor to care of them during their entire flight.

This is in addition to a number of other medical services, including the Lufthansa Patient Transport Compartment for the repatriation of people taken ill abroad or those who need intensive medical care during transportation.