By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay reporter
MONDAY, Nov. 20, 2023 (HealthDay News) — It’s not easy to travel if you have heart disease, but a chronic illness doesn’t have to stop someone from seeing friends and family during the holidays, says the American Heart Association (AHA).
Most people only need a few clothes and essential items in a bag before hitting the road or boarding their plane, but not people with heart conditions, said Dr Gladys Velardeprofessor of medicine at the University of Florida in Jacksonville.
“It’s not always this simple for people with chronic health conditions that require multiple medications or special medical equipment,” Velarde said in an AHA news release. “There are also considerations to make about how to maintain your health and not put yourself at increased risk.”
But with a little pre-travel preparation, people with heart conditions can overcome the special challenges they might face while traveling, says the AHA.
“Anticipating a big trip can be stressful for many – and stress is not good for your health,” Velarde said. “Every individual’s condition is unique and you will want to tailor your travel plans to your specific needs. By taking some time now to plan and prepare, you will be able to enjoy your vacation.
Talk to your doctor or cardiologist about your travel plans and ask them for advice on managing your specific health concerns during your trip.
Carry a copy of your key medical records, your doctors’ contact information, and a list of all your prescriptions
Make sure you have enough medications for the duration of your trip and label them clearly.
Keep time zones in mind and adjust your treatment schedules accordingly
Transportation plan for medications requiring refrigeration
Carry any special medical equipment you may need, such as a blood pressure cuff or glucometer.
“Depending on where you’re traveling, you’ll also want to do location-specific research and planning,” Velarde added.
“Local climate and altitude can impact how you feel: extreme heat or cold can affect circulation and put extra strain on your heart,” she said. “At high altitudes, there is less oxygen in the air, which means less oxygen will be carried in your blood.”
Air travel is especially difficult during the holidays, and you can make things easier by planning ahead before arriving at the airport, Velarde said.
When booking your ticket, request a wheelchair or courtesy trolley to take you to your terminal.
Keep in mind that you may need to pass a special safety check if you have a pacemaker or defibrillator implant.
Consider wearing compression socks and walking around the cabin when safe to do so to improve your circulation. Long flights, especially more than four hours, can increase the risk of blood clots.
“Maintaining your health while you travel is also important,” Velarde said. “Stay well hydrated, don’t overeat or drink, know your physical activity limits, pace yourself and rest as often as you need. »
SOURCE: American Heart Association, press release, November 16, 2023
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