Family • Wellbeing • Adventure

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Tips for travelling if you are suffering from heart disease

Travel, especially air travel, can be daunting for those who suffer from any heart-related ailments. You may find yourself putting off travel plans because your health is unpredictable. Of course, the decision to travel always comes at personal risk, but you shouldn’t let it hinder your desire to see the world. If you plan ahead and plan well at that, you can still manage to go on a refreshing trip without jeopardising your treatment and diet. 


Here are travel tips for patients of heart disease.

Precautions for air travel


• Reach the airport in plenty of time so you won’t have to rush through the crowd of passengers. If you don’t have any travel companions, pack lightly so you won’t have to lug heavy luggage around the airport. Use the elevators and escalators instead of stairs.

• Air travel does not pose any problems for the majority of the population. The cabin is pressurised to around 8,000 feet above sea level. Generally, even patients of heart disease will have an adequate oxygen supply at this pressure. However, if you require oxygen during flight, many airlines carry it on board. The charges and policies may vary from airline to airline. However, if you require it on-ground, you will need to make your own arrangement.

• It is not advisable that people who have had heart surgery or any coronary stents installed during the last two weeks of travel by air. People who have had a stroke or heart attack recently are also not recommended to take a flight. People whose heart disease is unstable, or who are at risk for arrhythmia, hypertension or angina are also advised not to get on a plane. However, since no heart condition is like another, patients are encouraged to visit their doctor for a recommendation to fly or not.

• In case a person has a cardiac implant like a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillators, they should avoid touching any metal surfaces around the screening area. While the devices are generally not affected by security equipment, it is considered wise to inform the security personnel about it. You can request a hand search rather than a hand-held security wand. Keep your personal device identification card with you so you can show it to the airport security staff.

• Lastly, avoid staying immobile for long periods. If someone has a history of vascular disease or heart failure, then the risk of blood clots in the legs increases when flying. If you have a long flight, you can get up and walk around the cabin to stretch your legs from time to time. Some people also wear compression stockings to prevent clots.

Keep medicine stocked


• Carry an adequate supply of medication in your hand carry. If you’re running out, make sure to refill your prescription leaving. The country you are travelling to may not have your medicine in supply, or it may be marketed under a different name. Moreover, you may need a native doctor’s prescription before buying any medication which could be an inconvenience.

• They should all be labelled in case of an emergency. To avoid complication at airport clearance, have written prescription for all the medicines you need to carry.

• Also carry your medical history, documents detailing your health condition and contact information of your doctors. Your doctor may even know colleagues in the country you are travelling to, and he may refer you to them in case of a cardiac emergency. The contact numbers of any native cardiologists, as well as the manufacturers of pacemakers and implants, should be saved in your phone.

• Look up travel and immunisation guidelines for the area you are travelling to and have preventative medicine delivered to your doorstep from Click Pharmacy. The vaccine is not likely to affect your heart.

• Always take your medication regularly with similar time intervals as you do when you’re in your home country. You can, of course, adjust the timings to suit a different time zone.

Don’t ditch diet and exercise


Just because you’re travelling, doesn’t mean you have to let go of your heart healthy lifestyle. Chances are it will be harder to follow a restrictive regimen when you’re not home and are not familiar with your surroundings, but it will also be more satisfying.

• Check the sodium content of the foods you are eating. Restaurants usually have a higher amount of salt in their diet than the average amount in a homemade meal. If you’re unsure, ask questions and request the cook to put a small amount of salt in your food. Otherwise, cook at home if you’re living with a relative or have access to a kitchen.

• DO NOT forget to exercise. Hotels and inns usually have gyms for visitors. In case your hotel does not have a gym, you can go to a community centre and sue their facilities. You can rent a bicycle at low prices and use it to move around town. However, do not overexert yourself. If you find yourself short of breath, take a break and rest until you feel fit to move again.

• Have a good fluid intake. Drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration. Pack usable BPA free plastic bottles in your luggage. Keep one in your hand carry as you go on walks and fill it from standby water tanks. This way, you will be keeping yourself active and won’t have to buy disposable water bottles that are not biodegradable, and that add to plastic waste in landfills and rivers. 



Travel health insurance


• Invest in travel insurance if your health insurance doesn’t cover travel. Travel insurance will also give your coverage in case you lose your documents, luggage or have any accident outside your country of residence.

• Consider buying a policy that comes with evacuation insurance for medical emergencies. Your plan should also cover interruptions and refunds in case you have to cancel your trip, or it is interrupted due to health issues.

• Always inform your health insurance provider before leaving the country and ask questions about how effectively your policy will recover you while you travel.

K Elizabeth xoxox

*Collaborative Post
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