Fernweh. Resfeber. Wanderlust. All our souls long to explore new places, see different cultures, and create lasting memories. But when you have a heart disease, travelling is not easy. Your first thought is not about which place to go next. It’s “Is it safe to travel with a heart condition?”
Something as simple as booking a flight and picking a destination becomes daunting.
But all is not lost. With some nifty planning and precautions, travelling with a heart disease can be safe and enjoyable.
Travelling with heart disease: charting safe waters
How do you travel with a heart condition? You don’t plan a holiday that involves any activity more vigorous than you’re used to.
On top of it, take your meds. Track your vitals. And follow a routine. Doing everything in this golden triangle makes travelling with heart disease easy.
1. Consult a doctor for adventures with a happy heart
Even before you pack your bags, touch base with your healthcare provider. It’s crucial. Schedule a thorough check-up to assess your current heart health. Discuss your travel plans, so the doctor can provide personalised advice and adjust medication if necessary.
2. Carry all your medications and prescriptions
Have an ample supply of your heart medications along with a copy of your prescriptions. The rule of thumb is to split them between your carry-on and check-in bags. Pack extra, so you’re safe if there are unexpected delays or your luggage gets lost.
3. Heart-proof your packing and travel
- Pack a portable blood pressure monitor, so you can keep an eye on your vitals.
- Have snacks with you so your blood sugar levels remain stable.
- Book an aisle seat so you don’t disturb other travellers during bathroom or walk breaks.
- If you have congestive heart failure, wear compression socks, particularly if the travel time is over 4 hours. They prevent blood clots and help with blood circulation.
4. Make the heart's journey safe
Heart devices like pacemakers, stents, and ICDs don’t set off metal detectors at airports for the most part. That said, it’s always better to carry your medical documents proving that you have one. Show them to the security personnel, so they don’t place the wand that detects metal over the device.
Whether you’re flying or on a road trip, move around as much as you can. On a plane, walk down the aisle (when the seatbelt light is off). On a road trip, have pit stops to walk and stretch.
Why? The risk of clots increases if you sit still for a long time, especially if you have a history of heart disease or vascular conditions.
5. Stay hydrated and mind your diet
- Dehydration strains the heart, so drink water regularly when you’re travelling with a heart disease.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet. Instead of heavy, greasy foods, pick lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Avoid excessive sodium, as it raises blood pressure and worsens heart conditions.
6. Know your physical limits
Travel means walking, climbing stairs, and carrying luggage. All of this is physically demanding. The trick to travelling safely with a heart condition is to listen to your body. Pace yourself, and when you get tired, take a break.
7. Be mindful of altitude changes
Travelling to high altitudes, such as mountains or plateaus, with a heart condition is a whole different ball game. Anything 2,500 feet above sea level is high altitude. The air is thinner there, which means less oxygen, which means the heart has to make more “trips” to transport it around the body.
If you’re recovering from a heart attack or just have stent(s) put in, avoid travel. The same advice is given to people with severe heart conditions. For others, the recommendation is to ascend gradually, and if you notice symptoms like headaches, lightheadedness, and weariness stop and consult a doctor.
8. Invest in travel insurance
Medical emergencies can happen anywhere, so consider purchasing travel insurance that covers your heart condition. Ensure the policy includes medical evacuation and trip cancellation coverage, so you have peace of mind during your travels.
9. Know the local healthcare facilities
Research the location of clinics, hospitals, and emergency services for every place you’re visiting during your travels. Keep the contact information handy so you are better prepared for any unforeseen circumstances.
Wanderlust and wellness:-
Travel need not be stressful if you live with a heart disease. Follow the tips, and you’ll have a stress-free exploration.
But, above all, listen to your heart throughout the journey. If there are warning signs—breathlessness, chest pain, dizziness, and extreme fatigue—get immediate medical attention!