Travelling Abroad with a Heart Condition: Here’s What You Need to Know

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Travel is something that everybody should be able to experience. Whether you’re planning a relaxing holiday in the sun or a fun-packed city break, there’s something extremely exciting and liberating about being able to get away from everyday life and explore somewhere new, not to mention the anticipation of having a trip to look forward to.

Having a pre-existing heart condition shouldn’t mean that you are unable to spend some time abroad. In fact, some time away to rest and focus on yourself could do you a world of good. With that in mind, we’ve put together some top tips that you should keep in mind before travelling abroad with a heart condition.

#1. Speak to Your Doctor First:

Whilst travelling and enjoying a relaxing holiday can be great for your health, it’s important to get the all-clear from your doctor before you book some time away. If you have been recently diagnosed with a heart condition, suffered a heart attack or undergone heart surgery, it’s advisable to postpone any travel plans until you feel more confident to do so, and if your doctor is happy for you to make the trip. Speak to your doctor – they will be better able to determine whether or not you are stable enough to go and provide you with valuable advice on what kind of activities you should be able to safely take part in whilst you are away.

#2. Choose the Right Destination:

Your choice of destination is very important if you are planning to travel with a pre-existing heart condition. For example, some climates, especially those that are very warm or very cold, can potentially put additional strain on your heart and cause your condition to worsen. High altitudes can also have a detrimental effect. Before you book anything, speak to your doctor about potential destination ideas, as they will be able to best advise you on which ones to avoid for the sake of your health.

#3. Plan in Advance:

Last-minute trips might not be the best of ideas if you are planning to travel with a pre-existing heart condition. It’s always better to be well prepared in advance to help you avoid any unnecessary stress that could affect your health. The NHS recommends that those with pre-existing heart conditions plan their travel at least four to six weeks ahead; this will give you plenty of time to organise your itinerary, gather any medication that you’ll need to take with you, and shop around for the best travel insurance to cover your heart condition. Making sure that everything is ready ahead of time will make for a more relaxing, stress-free holiday.

#4. Get Travel Insurance:

No matter where or when you decide to go on holiday, you will definitely need travel insurance that covers your heart condition. Getting treatment for a heart condition whilst you are abroad can be incredibly expensive, particularly if you require emergency treatment. Knowing that your heart condition is covered for any potential medical costs and that your travel insurance will be able to source and cover the cost of high-quality care for you is crucial for your trip. Bear in mind that many standard travel insurers will refuse to cover people with pre-existing heart conditions, so it’s best to look for specialist travel insurance options for existing medical conditions.

#5. Extra Assistance Options:

If you’re planning to travel by air, then the good news is that the majority of people who suffer from a pre-existing heart condition can travel by air with no problems. But, bear in mind that extra assistance is available if you feel that you need it during your journey. That being said, bear in mind that if your condition is particularly severe or unpredictable, it’s recommended that you delay air travel until your doctor confirms that you have improved and gives you the all-clear. If your doctor is happy for you to fly, the next step should be speaking to your airline to arrange any assistance that you might need. For example, you can get help with your baggage, priority boarding at the gate, and/or a supply of oxygen whilst you’re in the air. If you need to take any medication with you into the cabin, it’s important to get a medical note from your doctor beforehand, particularly if your medication is in liquid form and over 100ml.

#6. Things to Remember at the Airport:

There are several things that you can do to make your trip more comfortable and flexible. Wearing compression garments on the flight can make you more comfortable by keeping blood circulating in your veins when sitting still for a long period. If you have a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted, inform the airport security staff to avoid any issues at security.

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