Heart disease is a very serious condition. If there is something wrong with your heart, you want to get it treated as soon as possible and you want access to the best care available.
Heart treatments are quite expensive, and many patients choose to travel to get affordable care. Providers in western countries offer treatments at prices that can be up to ten times more expensive than what’s being offered in the eastern part of the world. Even when you consider plane fare and accommodations, patients still benefit financially by taking the medical tourism route.
But when it comes to heart conditions, patients have to wonder, is air travel safe? This article will discuss medical travel for heart related illness outlining what you need to be aware of.
Is Medical Travel Safe for Heart Patients?
According to research, there is no concrete evidence linking air travel to an increased risk of heart related incidents.
However, heart problems account for a high percentage of onboard emergencies. As a result, the Aviation
Administration mandated that an automated external defibrillator be placed on board all passenger carrying aircrafts with a capacity of more than 7500 pounds.
The biggest risk a passenger with a heart condition faces is blood clot formation in the legs, pelvis or arms (venous thrombosis). Clots form due to sitting for long hours, dehydration and the low levels of oxygen in the cabin. The risk increases if flights are longer than eight hours.
What Conditions are at Risk?
Risk levels will be determined by your condition and how recently treatment or incident has taken place.
If a person had a heart attack, they should wait two weeks before getting on an airplane. If they had angioplasty, a waiting period of one week is recommended.
Air travel has not been shown to cause any increased risk to people with pacemakers and implanted cardiac defibrillators (ICDs). And while ICDs have never been shown to interfere with metal detectors, they may cause an inadvertent shock to the wearer. It is for this reason that a hand search is preferable.
Precautions for Patients with Heart Conditions
If you are traveling with a heart condition, here are some steps to take to decrease your risk of emergency.
- Take all medications in your carryon luggage.
- If you have an irregular heartbeat or wear a pacemaker, carry a copy of a normal electrocardiogram.
- Carry contact information for pacemaker and ICD providers in your destination country.
- Travelers 50 years and over at risk for venous thrombosis should wear below the knee compression socks if they are on flights longer than eight hours or 3100 miles.
- If you are at risk for venous thrombosis, get aisle seating so you can get up and walk around without disturbing other passengers.
- Stay well hydrated on your flight and avoid alcoholic beverages.
- Have a checkup before traveling, especially if you are experiencing new symptoms.
- Check the CDC web site for the latest antimalarial and immunization recommendations.
- Consider purchasing medical evacuation insurance if it is not already covered on your plan.
Traveling with a heart condition comes with its share of risks but the tips in this article will lower the likelihood of an incident occurring while on a plane. Taking the right precautions will make for safer air travel so you can get the medical treatment you need overseas. What measures do you take to keep your heart healthy during flights?