STAT MD Communications, which provides emergency medical consulting to eight airlines, says it received about 1,500 calls with in-flight medical questions during the first seven months of 2008. "The most frequent in-flight medical emergencies concern fainting, followed by breathing issues, seizures and chest pains," says Scott Harrington, STAT MD's medical director, adding that the stress associated with travel can exacerbate such issues. Meanwhile, the FAA Medical Institute says medical emergencies on commercial flights doubled from 19 per million to 35 per million passengers between 2000 and 2006. Further study would be necessary to positively identify the causes of in-flight medical emergencies, especially as carriers are not required to report them.

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