By Dr. Aparna Jaswal
People with cardiovascular disease can also enjoy the pleasure of travelling as it’s completely safe for them, provided they stay within prescribed areas of activity, rest, medication and diet. Given below are some standard preparations as advised by Dr. Aparna Jaswal, Senior Consultant Cardiologist at Fortis and Electrophysiologist Escort Heart Institute in Delhi that must be kept in mind for anyone with chronic medical conditions.
- Before planning a vacation people should undergo pre-trip physical examination and a physician’s letter documenting the diagnosis and listing all required medications. They should also take into consideration competent medical personnel and facilities available at the destination they choose. People should carry a complete set of medical records with them — two copies of medical reports, prescription records and insurance information; one in your luggage, and one to carry with you at all times. For those with pacemakers, always carry your pacemaker emergency card that outlines the type of equipment and date of implantation.
- People on vacations tend to indulge in unhealthy diet including cookies, crackers and chips which even labeled as “reduced fat” are made with oils containing transfats. So, these snacks should be completely avoided and replaced with vegetables and fruits which are good sources of vitamins and minerals and are low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Fatty and processed meats, salty foods, and rich, creamy sauces and pastries that are probably high in saturated fat should be avoided.
- Avoid alcohol and keep yourself well hydrated to avoid blood clots. Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid extremely hot or cold destinations and high altitudes as it poses risks for heart patients.
- If someone has had a heart attack and is not used to exercising, they should avoid a trek through the mountains.
- Patients with a history or risk of heart disease should wear below-the-knee compression stockings if traveling on a flight of more than eight hours or further than 3,100 miles. This is especially important for travelers over age 50 and anyone with blood clot risk factors.
- In-flight symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain or confusion may signal that a person has dropping oxygen levels. In such cases, passengers with heart disease should ask the crew for additional oxygen.
- Carry contact numbers and website addresses of pacemaker and ICD manufacturers and local representatives of the destination you are travelling. If someone has had a heart attack and is not used to exercising, they should avoid a trek through the mountains.
- Wear heart rate monitor to measure both heart rate and to understand the stress the body is under at any