Whether you're on the sunny shores of Bali or the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, travel gives you a whole new perspective on life and, more importantly, yourself. There's nothing more liberating than escaping the bustle of everyday life and getting lost in the wilderness of a foreign country. A happy flutter of excitement is all that you and your heart should be feeling.
So to get all the newly diagnosed, the surgery survivors and everyone in between to wave their worries goodbye and hit the road; here's a guide that has everything you need to know about heart health and travel, so you can enjoy the stress-free journey of a lifetime.
Choosing the Destination
Be mindful when you're choosing your holiday destination. High altitudes of 2,000 metres and above can be challenging vacation spots when dealing with a heart condition. The lack of oxygen in the air can cause breathing problems, headaches and angina, and you may have to move at a slower pace. Places with extreme temperatures can also put excess strain on your heart. Consider that fact when you're making your pick. And if you're travelling to an exotic or isolated destination, check in advance if you will have access to proper medical care at the location.
Long flights are tiring, but when you throw a heart condition into the mix, air travel can be slightly more taxing. Fortunately, a little planning can go a long way to ensure you have a safe and comfortable journey.
Lengthy flights increase the risks of developing blood clots due to the reduced blood circulation. So, stretch your legs out every hour or so by walking up and down the aisle.
Invest in comfortable shoes and compression socks for your travels. Your feet will thank you for it.
Dehydration is another risk factor for blood clots, so remember to stay hydrated and ditch the alcohol.
Pack light and carry a bag with wheels so you don't over exert yourself.
Travelling with a Pacemaker or ICD
Modern implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and pacemakers don't cause problems at the airport, but it's wise to make the airport staff aware of your condition. Carry a note from your doctor to be on the safe side, and don't be worried if some alarms go off when you walk through the scanner. The metal casing on your device can trigger the alarms in some instances.
Pack enough medication to last your entire trip, plus a little more just in case. Always carry copies of your prescription and medical records with you, and keep them in your handbag along with the medication for easy access. If you're travelling to a different time zone, remember to keep a check on your medication schedule and talk to your doctor about any adjustments, if necessary.
Stick to your regular diet when you're travelling. It's easy to lose track of time when you're on holiday mode, but you have to make heart health top priority.
Cut down your salt intake. Excess sodium leads to increased blood pressure.
Watch your fluid intake based on your doctor's advice.
Ditch the unhealthy snacks. Carry some nuts to munch on when you get hungry.
Seek Help When Required
The most important thing to do is listen to your body. If your body is showing any signs of discomfort, like chest pain, breathlessness, nausea or lightheadedness, call for help.
Travel can be stressful with or without a heart condition, but it does the heart more good than bad when done right. Don't let the stress keep you from following your heart across the world. With the right planning, you should be good to go.
Disclaimer: This publication/editorial/article is meant for awareness/educational purposes and does not constitute or imply an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of any Products. Please consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, medication or exercise.