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Travelling or going on holiday doesn’t need to be off limits because you have heart failure, or care for someone who does. There are a few extra things to consider, but by following the simple steps below, you can help make sure your trip is a smooth one.
If your heart failure is stable, the mild reductions in oxygen levels on an airplane shouldn’t cause any problems. However, if your symptoms have recently worsened, your doctor might recommend supplemental oxygen for your flight. In this case, make sure you contact the airline before booking so you can check their policy and make the appropriate arrangements.
When you have heart failure, getting too hot or too cold might result in extra stress on your heart.
If you’re travelling somewhere that is extremely hot, make sure to wear light, breathable clothes as well as a hat and sunglasses. To prevent dehydration, it’s also important to avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
If your holiday is somewhere cold, make sure you keep warm by layering your clothes and wearing a hat and scarf. Keep your hands and feet warm, too, as they tend to lose heat rapidly.
You should always pack your medicine with you when you go on holiday. It’s often a good idea to bring enough for an extra couple of days, in case of any delays or cancellations. You should also make sure to bring a list of all your medicines and a copy of your prescriptions in case you lose your medicine and need more – speak to your doctor who should be able to help arrange these for you.
Some airports might request that you put your medicine in the hold, so if you do need your medicine during your flight, speak to the airline before you fly and discuss arrangements. Also, some countries have rules for the amount and types of medicines you are allowed to carry with you, so it may be worth checking with the embassy of the country you are visiting before travelling.
Remembering to take your medicine when on holiday can often be difficult, especially when you’re travelling to a different time zone. Try setting an alarm so that you don’t forget and talk to your doctor about what to do in case you do miss a dose.
Sticking to your regular diet when travelling is tricky, especially if you are abroad! Although a short term change in diet shouldn’t affect your condition too much, there are some simple steps you can take to limit any symptom changes, including watching your fluid and salt intake, and limiting your alcohol consumption.
Use the Keep It Pumping Symptom Checker to check your symptoms before you travel.
It’s always a good idea to prepare for emergencies when travelling. Easy steps like preparing an up-to-date list of your medications and taking the phone number of your doctor with you will help ensure that if something were to happen, you’d be in control.
It’s also important to ensure you secure travel insurance before you travel, and remember to take the relevant phone numbers and policy numbers with you.
Following these five simple steps can help you to be well-prepared for travelling, so you can make sure your heart failure doesn’t hold you back on holiday! If you have any travel tips of your own, why not share them through our social media channels?
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1) Heart Failure Matters. Living with Heart failure. Travel. Available at: http://www.heartfailurematters.org/en_GB/Living-with-Heart-Failure/Travel/. Last accessed October 2016
2) The British Heart Foundation. Hot weather and your heart. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/living-with-a-heart-condition/hot-weather-and-your-heart. Last accessed October 2016
3) The American Heart Association. Travel and heart disease. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Travel-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_447033_Article.jsp#.V30jwfkrKUk. Last accessed October 2016