Taking a vacation doesn’t have to be off-limits just because you or a loved one has been diagnosed with heart disease. A few precautions before you leave can help make your trip a smooth one and ensure you won’t be stuck enjoying vacation from the sidelines.
Before you book any travel or hotel plans, it goes without saying that it’s important to plan ahead. When picking a destination, consider how you’ll get there. Some heart disease patients, particularly those with pacemakers, may not be able to fly or will need to make special arrangements. Your cardiologist can help you determine what’s safe for you. Once you’ve picked a location, do some research to find how far away you’ll be from local medical facilities and have a clear understanding of what your insurance provider will cover in case of a medical emergency. Your cardiologist may even be able to recommend a doctor or facility they know of in the area.
Make a list of your medications
“Make sure that you bring your medicine with you when you travel. It’s also a good idea to have a list of all the medications you’re taking or a copy of your prescriptions,” suggests William Kornberg, DO, Lankenau Heart Institute cardiologist at Riddle Hospital.
For patients with an abnormal EKG, Dr. Kornberg also recommends asking your cardiologist for a copy of it to keep in your wallet or purse. You may also want to bring the contact information for your cardiologist, or a copy of your patient medical records.
Prepare your body
If you’ll be doing a lot of walking on vacation, make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes and try to start a walking routine a few weeks before you leave to prepare yourself. If you’re on a special diet, try your best to stick to the same diet while you’re on vacation. Too much of the wrong foods can bring on symptoms.
Finally, remember to listen to your body.
“If you’re on vacation and you start to experience symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain, call for medical help. Don’t worry about ruining the vacation for everyone else,” warns Dr. Kornberg. “You know your body best. Listen to it when it needs a break.”
If you're planning a long trip or vacation, it's best to talk to your cardiologist first so they can inform you of any special arrangements you may need to make ahead of time.