Over the next few months, millions of people will be traveling to destinations near and far to get away from the cold weather or visit family.
“A common question I get from patients is whether it’s safe for them to travel with a heart condition,” says Eli Gelfand, MD, Section Chief of General Cardiology in the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “In most cases, the answer is an enthusiastic ‘yes.’”
Getting away can be good for your health, says Dr. Gelfand, a veteran traveler whose trips have taken him around the world. The key to a safe journey, he notes, is to prepare in advance.
“By carefully planning ahead and occasionally making small modifications to travel plans, people with heart conditions can enjoy their trips without worrying about their health,” says Dr. Gelfand.
Here are a few recommendations from Dr. Gelfand to get ready for your trip.
Before you make any reservations, talk with your doctor about your travel plans, especially if you have undergone a recent heart procedure, use oxygen intermittently or chronically, or been prescribed a new medication.
Questions to ask:
By and large, air travel is safe for patients with heart conditions. But patients with a history of congestive heart failure, congenital heart disease, or lung disease should be aware that despite cabin pressurization, the air in the plane’s cabin is still much thinner than it is on the ground. This impacts how oxygen is carried through the blood, and means that your heart has to work harder. Talk with your doctor about this.
In an emergency, always seek immediate treatment at a local hospital before contacting your doctor.
Dr. Gelfand also advises patients traveling abroad to look up the emergency services number for your destination country prior to leaving home, and use a mobile app like mPassport which allows you to look up emergency numbers, local physicians, and local safety alerts.
Above content provided by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor and visit bidmc.org.
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