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Q&A: Obtaining Third Class Medical After Triple Bypass

By Penny Giovanetti, D.O., Manager, Aerospace Medical Specialties Division
Source: FAA Safety Briefing, May/June 2017

Q. I have had open-heart surgery, a triple bypass, I was out of the hospital in three days and have had a near record recovery. I am taking Carvedilol, Rosuvastatin, and aspirin as a blood thinner. I am in excellent health and am in cardiovascular rehab and doing very well. My heart surgeon said everything looked really good inside and that I was just heredity-disposed to blockage. My cardiologist said if I hadn’t taken such good care of myself, I would have had this surgery 10 years ago. Since I have had all of this corrected and am leading a healthy lifestyle, what are my chances of passing a class III medical, and what would I be looking at for renewal if I were to obtain one?

A. Even with “near record recovery,” the risk for complications remains high during the first six months after surgery. That is why we recommend a six-month observation period before seeking special issuance certification. You will need to provide your medical records, to include your cardiac catheterization films (digital format), and a nuclear stress test at six months. It sounds like your chances are excellent for special issuance.

Send your questions to They will be forwarded to the Aerospace Medical Certification Division, without your name, and the answer will be published in an upcoming issue of FAA Safety Briefing.

Penny Giovanetti, D.O., received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford, a master’s in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine from the University of Iowa and a doctorate from Des Moines University. She completed a 27-year career as an Air Force flight surgeon. She is board certified in aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, and physical medicine/rehabilitation. She is also a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association and a private pilot.

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