Traveling with a Cardiovascular Condition

Close up of a group of male senior tourists exploring the city

Summer is in full swing and many of us are traveling for leisure or to spend time with family and friends. A getaway is good for our mental and physical health. Travel offers the chance to create lasting memories and forge meaningful connections. But if you or a loved one has a history of heart problems, you may wonder what is safe when it comes to planes, trains, and automobiles. It’s important to be well-prepared and informed to ensure a safe journey. Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan your summer travel.

Before embarking on any trip, consult your healthcare provider. They can assess your current health status and provide personalized recommendations. They may suggest precautions, adjust medications or dosages if necessary, and offer general advice to ensure your well-being during travel.

Research your destination ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the nearby medical facilities and available care. Identify healthcare providers or hospitals in the area and keep their contact information readily accessible. Ask your doctor for references. She may have contacts in the area of your travel.

Pack an adequate supply of your medications for the entire trip, along with a few extra days in case of unforeseen delays. Keep your medications in your carry-on bag to avoid the risk of losing them with checked baggage. It’s also a good idea to carry a written list of your medications, including names, dosages, and frequencies, in case you require medical assistance while away. The American Heart Association has a printable chart you can use to list your medications.

Be diligent with your medication schedule, even if you need to adjust for different time zones. Use reminders, alarms, or pill organizers to stay on track. If you have any concerns or experience side effects, contact a healthcare professional.

Maintain proper hydration throughout your journey by drinking plenty of water. Limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, as they can contribute to dehydration. Opt for heart-healthy food choices, such as low-sodium options, fresh fruits, and vegetables, while avoiding fatty or processed foods that can affect your heart health.

When traveling for long periods, be mindful of extended sitting, which can increase the risk of blood clots. Take regular breaks to move and stretch. Walk around, perform simple exercises, and stretch to improve blood circulation. Consider wearing compression socks for long flights or rides.

Inform your travel companions about your heart health condition, especially if they may need to assist you during an emergency. Additionally, notify the airline or transportation providers in advance if you require special assistance or accommodations.

Manage stress throughout your journey, as stress can impact heart health. Engage in stress-reducing activities like deep breathing exercises, meditation, or other relaxation techniques that help you unwind.

Familiarize yourself with local emergency contact numbers at your destination and keep your emergency contact information easily accessible. Wear a medical alert bracelet or pendant if you have one.

Remember that every individual’s situation is unique, so it’s crucial to maintain close communication with your healthcare provider and follow their advice for a safe summer of travel.

Source: IlluminAge with information from and National Library of Medicine

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