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  Category: Articles » Health & Fitness » Article

Can I Travel With Heart Disease?

By Ng Peng Hock

Can I travel if I have heart disease? This is a common question that people will ask, especially if they have intention to travel by air. According to doctors, people treated with heart conditions or have significant cardiac histories need not avoid travel. It can safely be done, provided few precautions are taken.

The very first thing you need to do is to have a comprehensive check-up. Do it early enough for your doctor to order any necessary investigations if required and to prescribe enough (plus reserve) medicines for your trip.

You are also advised to obtain a written summary of your medical history from your doctor so that you can carry it with you while you are traveling. It is a must that you should bring along your doctor's name and contact details, and a list of all the drugs you are taking with dosage and generic name.

You must carry with you the prescribed medicines in their original packaging. This can not only soothe sometimes-paranoid customs, but also be of great help to a doctor abroad whom you may need to see for assistance. The medicines should be carried and stored with your hand luggage.

If you have recently had an open heart surgery or coronary artery stenting, you will need to check with your cardiologist specifically how long you should wait before flying. Sometimes, the coronary vessels that have been stented can close up again, but this risk is reduced after the first 2 weeks. For some post-operative patients, expanding air at cabin altitude may be painful and even dangerous in the case of persisting air leaks after a heart surgery.

Do not forget to buy emergency evacuation insurance, particularly if you are traveling to a remote area. Any pre-existing conditions should duly and correctly be notified to the insurer and make sure they are not excluded from the coverage.

For the non-medical aspects of travel, try to travel relaxed and unstressed. Do your packing as early as possible and bring only necessary items. As a heart disease patient, you are not expected to carry and lift 20 to 30 kg suitcases in and out of cars and carrying them up and down the stairs. Choose suitcases with wheels and long handles.

Special attention should be paid to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), which is the formation of blood clots in the large veins of the legs or other parts of the body during the flight. Heart disease patients taking fluid-losing diuretic medicines will face a higher risk of developing DVT. In order to reduce the risk, these patients should drink water regularly during the flight, and move about the cabin as much as possible while observing safety flight conditions.

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