Get your medical back after a heart attack

I was interested in the article on getting your medical back after a heart attack (The Doctor is In, June 17 issue). On Feb. 10,1978, at the age of 44, I had a myocardial infarction. I had triple by-pass surgery on June 1, 1978. In checking with the FAA at that time to get my medical, I had to wait a year after the surgery to apply. The FAA sent me the required forms and I had to have an angiogram with all the hospital pictures of surgery, all doctors reports, etc. I went to a cardiologist who is a pilot and knows what was required at that time. I had all the medical tests required three months early and submitted them to the FAA in OKC. I received a certified letter three months later with all the medical records returned. What a blow. I had to send everything to Washington D.C., as they were the only ones that could give a special issuance medical at that time. I returned the paperwork to the proper place in D.C. in October of 1979. In December I received another certified letter from the FAA. Inside was my special issuance medical. I was required to have oxygen on the aircraft and wear an oxygen mask above 8,000 feet. I also was to have a stress test with a maximum heart rate of over 85% every six months until 1982. After this I had to take a stress test every year with the same 85% heart rate. In the early part of 1990 my doctor put me on beta blockers, which slow the heart rate. I could not get my heart rate up to the 85% with the beta blockers. The FAA then required me to stop the beta blockers 10 days before the stress test. I had another heart attack in 1998 and had a heart catheter and two stents installed. The FAA renewed my special issuance after a year. I had another heart attack in 2001 and my special issuance has been denied. I have only had nine heart attacks, 14 heart catheters and 11 stents installed since 1998. I have had the same cardiologist since 1978 and he still flies a Conquest ll. He has given me very good medical advice as well as the best medication that the FAA will approve.

The FAA will not accept a medical or grant one due to my history in the past eight years and I would not expect them to do so. I was told in 1979 when I received my first special issuance that I was one of the first 50 to receive the special issuance after a heart attack.

Sam Campbell
via email 

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