Choosing the right destination when travelling with a heart condition
Just because you have been diagnosed with a heart condition doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go on holiday. Many conditions are completely well-controlled with or without medication and taking a break to relax is sure to do anyone the world of good – just make sure you choose a suitable location.
When travelling with a heart condition it is best to avoid high altitudes or ‘hilly areas’ due to lower oxygen levels which could put unnecessary strain on your heart. In addition, try to stay away from climates that are either too hot or too cold (i.e. the Caribbean or Iceland), the extreme weather can put strain on the heart and cold weather in particular can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to rise putting you at greater risk of a heart attack.
If you would like to travel to a warmer climate it is a good idea to travel outside of the peak season and opt for a cooler month instead – you can still spend your day relaxing in the sun but the extreme heat will have passed.
Although not technically related to choosing a destination, it may be worth speaking with your chosen airline to see if they offer airport assistance. A member of staff will meet you at security to lend a hand with luggage and transport around the airport which will make the airport experience that little bit easier, especially if you are travelling solo.
European Health Insurance Card
When travelling within Europe don’t forget to take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as this will entitle you to discounted or free emergency medical treatment. The EHIC is free of charge and valid for five years so definitely worth applying for – even if you never have to use it.
It is important to remember your EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance as it will only cover emergency medical treatment, not repatriation back to the UK or aftercare following treatment.
Precautions to consider when travelling with a heart condition
♥ Depending on your condition you may have been fitted with a pacemaker or an internal defibrillator (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator – ICD), if so this must be declared to your travel insurance company when buying a policy. If your pacemaker or ICD has been fitted within the last two to four weeks you may not be offered cover until after this period so it may be worth checking with the travel insurance provider before beginning a quote.
♥ When passing through security bear in mind that some pacemakers and ICDs can set off security alarms at the airport so it may be a good idea to let security personnel know about your device and show them your device ID card before you go through.
♥ If you need to be checked with a hand-held scanner, this should never be placed over the device.
♥ Heart conditions can put you at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot or an embolism. If you are travelling by air it is a good idea to purchase some flight socks – which are available over the counter at most pharmacies. When in-flight try to move around as much a possible or do small exercises regularly to aid circulation.
♥ When selecting accommodation look for somewhere that is within close proximity to the local area so you don’t have to walk too far and ensure the accommodation has adequate facilities, such as an elevator or limited steps.