Understandably, travelling after a heart attack can be worrying but it doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. With some careful planning and flexibility, you can head away for that much-needed trip. Here are our top 5 essential tips you need to know for travelling after a heart attack.
1 – After a heart attack it is likely you will have some new medication that you need to take on holiday with you. It is important to check that the medication you are taking with you is legal in the country you are travelling to. Drugs that we may think are quite innocent can be illegal in certain countries, but don’t worry, you will still be able to travel with them, you may just require a bit more paperwork. You may also need a copy of your prescription and a note from your doctors confirming your diagnosis, the name of your medication and the dosage. You can read more about this here.
If you have been fitted with a pacemaker it is important you carry your medical card with you. When passing through security, it is advised you do not go through the body scanners and instead ask for a manual search. If there is a language barrier, putting your hand on your heart and saying ‘Pacemaker’ is usually understood.
2 – Although you may have the Caribbean sun in your sights, this may not be plausible straight after a heart attack. But that’s not saying it won’t ever be a possibility.
Climate, destination and activities all play a key role when you are planning a holiday following a heart attack as they can have adverse effects on the body. For example, warmer weather causes your heart to beat faster and pump harder in order to send more blood to the skin, even when you are just sitting and relaxing. With this is mind, it may be wise to choose a destination with a milder climate or visit during the cooler months. Spain is the perfect escape for some winter sun, without the scorching heat.
Similar to hot weather, exercise can also put more strain on the heart so it may be best to hold off on the jet skiing this time around. Also, be sure to check the destination you are staying in. Hilly terrain and long distances to local amenities may be too strenuous.
3 – When buying your travel insurance policy after a heart attack you will need to complete a medical declaration. For this reason, it may be better for you to find a specialist medical travel insurance provider – like us!
Travel insurance, that includes cover for your existing medical conditions, will cover you for costs if you require emergency medical treatment abroad. If you do not declare your heart attack and any subsequent treatment and need emergency medical treatment related to your condition, you will not be covered. This includes any treatment for linked conditions i.e., blood clots or injuries which occur after passing out etc.
If you have declared your heart attack and your insurer has agreed to cover it under your travel insurance policy, you will also be covered if you need to cancel your holiday or come home early either due to your heart attack or a related incident (that you did not know about at the time of booking your travel insurance policy).
4– Whether you are travelling by air, sea, rail or road, there are several considerations you need to take into account when going on holiday after a heart attack. Flying may be the most convenient mode of transport for you and following an uncomplicated heart attack, the risks are low. Having said that, you should always run your holiday plans past your treating doctor to ensure they are happy for you to travel – particularly if you required surgery.
While flying, or on any mode of transport that involves you sitting for prolonged periods of time i.e. in a car, it is important to take precautions against DVT’s (Deep Vein Thrombosis/Blood Clots). The risk of a DVT is higher following a heart attack. To help prevent them, it is recommended you wear compression socks throughout the duration of your journey and try to move as much as possible; even if this is just some small exercises in your chair to increase the blood flow to your legs.
Another consideration to take into account when it comes to travelling abroad is if you are going on a cruise. While cruising may be a more relaxing, freeing form of travelling it is important to remember that the medical care onboard the ship may be limited and the resources required to get you to land (and the nearest hospital) may not be readily available.
5 – The key to travelling after a heart attack is to be flexible. Flexible with absolutely everything (if you can be), from the date you travel and the destination to the mode of transport and length of time you are away. This will allow you to ensure you plan a holiday that is both enjoyable and suitable for your current health. It will also make finding a suitable medical travel insurance policy a little easier if you have a few options to play around with.
While many people go on to live a perfectly happy, healthy life after a heart attack, you should always take time to research and plan your holiday away. Especially when it comes to buying a travel insurance policy that will offer you the cover you need for you and your medical conditions.