Cardiology, CVAs and repatriation: why it’s better to go home for care

Heart-related problems can be a nightmare to deal with abroad – not least for friends and family, who often have to handle what happens next.

This was a situation facing Sakine recently, an EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation customer from Holland. “Unfortunately, fate struck and my mother suffered a stroke during her stay in Turkey,” she explains, writing about the incident on our Google Reviews page.

Cardiology cvas and repatriation

Cardiology, CVAs and repatriation: why it’s better to go home for care

“After being kept in line by her health insurer for a while, we were told that her insurance was not sufficient for repatriation to the Netherlands. Since my mother could not get the right care in Turkey, we decided to outsource the repatriation to EMS.” [translation by Google]

These two factors – time and the right type of care – are the biggest challenges facing anyone whose loved one suffers a heart problem, stroke or CVA (cardiovascular accident) abroad. If you have any doubts about either factor, we always advise getting your patient back home for treatment. Here’s why we say that, and how you can take the next steps.

Act quickly

It goes without saying that time is important after a serious cardiological or neurological event. Heart and brain tissue die when starved of oxygen, so getting straight to local emergency care is critical. Once there – and this is often when relatives first hear about the accident – the patient can be diagnosed, stabilized (eg with clot-preventing medication (thrombolysis) for an ischemic stroke) and given targeted treatment. Since quality of care makes so much difference to a cardiology patient’s long-term recovery, however, it’s crucial to think about what happens next – even at this early stage.

  • What critical care and surgery is being provided, and is this the right course of action?
  • How experienced, competent and well-resourced are the local medics?
  • How long are they expecting your patient to stay in intensive care, or on the wards?
  • What plans are they putting in place for your patient’s rehab?

Sadly, getting the answers to these questions can be very difficult – especially when there are insurance issues, or language barriers, or you just can’t get hold of the foreign medics. These are just some of the reasons why, in our view, it’s always better to get home for treatment at the earliest possible moment.

Identify the right hospital

Once you’ve decided to bring your patient home, the next question becomes: which hospital? For some, the answer will be straightforward – you have a major facility with a large Cardiology department that’s close enough for easy visiting. But it may not be so obvious. Perhaps your patient needs specialised care for a specific heart condition. Maybe you want them to see the very best consultants and surgical teams, regardless of distance. Or maybe you want them to have personalised care in a multidisciplinary setting (see below). Whatever the case, EMS can help you find the right place. We work with some of the most renowned private hospitals in Europe, America and the Gulf. We can recommend clinics and consultants, liaise with them, and even book the appointments.

Travel with specialists

When exactly will you be allowed to move your patient from the local hospital? A few days after the incident? A week? Longer? This is a question that often confuses families – especially when the local doctors tell them their patient isn’t fit to fly. Result: yet more waiting. But the truth is that, with the right kind of transport, it’s almost always possible to fly a heart patient home securely. Your transport could include things like:

A high-care air ambulance
– essentially a flying ICU, with emergency inflight treatment on hand

A sea-level flight – if your patient’s condition means it would be unsafe to fly at high altitudes

Advanced equipment – medical apparatus that’s tailored specifically to your patient’s needs

Cardiology expert – a specialist, or team of specialists, to look after your patient from bed to bed

EMS’s Director of Operations is actually a cardiology expert himself; he has extensive experience in putting together repatriation teams with aeromedical skills in cardiology.

Get high-quality rehab

Strokes and heart-related problems often come bundled with other serious complications. This includes things like physical weakness, fatigue, sleeping problems and cognitive impairment – for instance, memory problems and difficulties with speech. In other words, the journey back to full health goes far beyond emergency treatment. It takes time and specialist help – ideally within a clinical setting that’s set up to offer carefully integrated, multidisciplinary care. For cardiology patients, that can include things like:

  • A gentle exercise and strengthening programme
  • Speech therapy
  • Nutrition expertise, to offer dietary advice and changes
  • Counselling, for the psychological aspects of the incident
  • At-home care, to help the patient as they resume normal life

Studies have shown that Cardiac Rehab can have a huge impact on patient’s overall recoveries, dropping mortality rates by 30% and significantly improving the journey back to health. For these and so many other reasons, flying home quickly for treatment is almost always the best policy for onward care. In the end, it pays to go home sooner rather than later.

Contact us

If you’re thinking about a medical transport and concerned about securing a bed in the right hospital, please call us and we’ll be happy to give you advice. Just get in touch with our friendly experts by phone, email or WhatsApp. Head to our Contact page for the details. You can also get a free, no-obligation cost estimate for your repatriation with our online pricing calculator.

Please note that EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Get a free quote