The Doctors: Man Suffered Heart Attack On Airplane + Proper Use Of AED


The Doctors: Man Suffered Heart Attack On Airplane

Dr. Travis Stork explained that about 720,000 people face a very scary scenario every year: a heart attack. He said what’s even scarier is that they often happen anytime and anywhere, even on an airplane.

A woman named Carolina explained that she and her husband were on vacation in California and on their way home, right after the plane took off, her husband started to have symptoms. He thought it was something he had eaten that had not agreed with him, but then 10-15 minutes before landing, the man seized up. She said her husband’s whole body clenched and then relaxed. She said he was unconscious and at that point she knew he had had a heart attack.


The Doctors: Man Suffered Heart Attack On Airplane + Proper Use Of AED

The Doctors talked to a woman who’s husband died after having a heart attack on an airplane, and explained what could’ve been done to save his life. (S.V.Art /

The flight attendant made an announcement asking for any medical personnel, and two people responded. One was a hospice nurse and the other was a female physical therapist. They managed to get him into the aisle, and proceeded to give him oxygen. Caroline said she could tell that her husband was not breathing regularly and he would gasp for air.

The Drs TV: Man Dies From Heart Attack On Airplane

Right as the wheels hit the tarmac, a woman came running up from the back wondering why they hadn’t hooked him up to the AED (automated external defibrillator). Caroline said it snapped her into reality for a moment, and she looked over and saw the AED device sitting on one of the seats.


The female flight attendant that was helping them responded that they had not used the AED “because his chest is too hairy.” The woman from the back of the plane said, “that’s why there’s a shaver in the kit.”

At that point they were at the gate and the paramedics were on the plane, carrying him off. The paramedics worked on the man for approximately 20-30 minutes on the jetway but were unable to resuscitate him. Caroline now believes that the only chance of her husband’s survival was the AED device.

The Doctors: Using An AED Device During Cardiac Arrest

She said it’s been a little over 4 months since her husband passed away, and trying to get the message out about the important of the AED, has given her something to do.

The Doctors welcomed Caroline to the show and offered them their deepest sympathy for the loss of her husband. Dr. Stork said what she was doing is very educational because when someone goes into cardiac arrest, the best chance of survival in most cases is with using an AED.

Caroline said she wanted to educate the public and put pressure on Southwest Airlines. She said that given her experience, she doesn’t believe them to be as well prepared as we as a society think they are.

Dr. Stork said during a cardiac arrest, it’s a high intensity environment with a lot of fear. What you do in those moments may be different than what you do during a CPR class. He further explained that a hairy chest can prevent the AED pads from making contact with the skin, which could lead to a lack of appropriate shock.

Inside the first-responder kits, there’s almost always a razor in them of some type. Dr. Stork said if you could just get enough hair off the area where you need to put the AED pad, it will then have surface contact and provide a shock, which is the best chance of survival.

The Drs TV: Statement From Southwest Airlines

The Doctors reached out to Southwest Airlines and they made the following statement: “Our report indicates that the Flight Attendants on board did not deviate from medical emergency protocol, including the instruction for using the automated external defibrillator (AED). There were two medical professional onboard this flight who assisted our flight attendants in applying oxygen; checking vitals; administering CPR; and prepping the Customer for the potential use of the AED. While in the air, our Employees contacted paramedics who met the flight immediately upon arrival.”

That was just an excerpt from the full statement that can be found on The Doctors’ website.

Dr. Stork said he wanted people to know they should get CPR and also be aware that the hair needs to be removed before you place the pads if there’s a lot of it.


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