Traveling is stressful in general, and for those with heart disease it can pose an even bigger challenge. But having heart problems doesn’t necessarily mean you have to miss out on the next family vacation or island getaway. With proper preparation and care, travelers with heart disease can easily enjoy a comfortable and healthy vacation alongside their loved ones. Here are some tips to ensure a heart-healthy trip.
Talk to Your Doctor Before You Go
If you experience any unusual symptoms, have had a recent procedure or hospitalization, or have an irregular heartbeat, be sure to visit your doctor prior to your departure. He or she will let you know if it is safe to travel and, in some cases, provide you with a copy of a recent EKG test to bring with you.
Prepare Your Medications
Make sure to pack enough medication for the entire trip as well as for a few extra days in case of delays or cancelations. If you are flying, keep your medication in your carry-on bag so that it is easily accessible at all times. Be sure that all medications are properly labeled and that you have access to water (and food if necessary) when it is time to take them.
Once you’ve talked to your doctor and prepared your medications, there are a few other key things you can do before departure to eliminate health risks:
- Pack using suitcases on wheels to avoid heavy lifting.
- If flying, request an aisle seat so you can get up and move when necessary.
- If traveling overseas, arrange for a day of rest after arrival.
- Arrive to the airport, train station, or bus depot early to avoid crowds.
- Pack plenty of healthy snacks and water (if flying, buy water bottles once you get through security).
- Avoid alcoholic beverages.
Avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
For people with heart conditions, sitting for extended periods of time can increase the risk of swelling in your legs and blood clots. Flying adds to this risk because of lower oxygen levels on the plane. To avoid DVT:
- Try to move every 2 hours or so. If driving, stop the car and take a walk. If flying, walk around the cabin. If you cannot get up and walk, move your feet around for several minutes while seated.
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks.
- If flying for more than 8 hours, wear compression stockings.
Take Proper Precautions If You Have a Pacemaker or ICD
If flying with a pacemaker or implanted cardiac defibrillator (ICD), make sure you carry your device ID on you and inform a TSA agent. It is safe to walk through most metal detectors and full body scanners now, but you should not permit a hand-held metal detector to be used near your device. If you are unsure of what is safe in your situation, it may be best to ask a TSA agent for a hand search.
Get Travel Health Insurance
If you follow these tips, you should have a comfortable and problem-free trip. However, in the off chance that medical assistance is needed, it’s important to have a travel health insurance plan that covers hospital or doctor visits, prescription drugs, and medical evaluations.