At Medical Travel Compared, we know how significant a heart attack can be. On average, someone in the UK will suffer a heart attack every seven minutes – which can range from mild to extremely severe. While these will, undoubtedly, have an impact on your health, that doesn’t mean travelling is no longer an impossibility. That’s why we’ve assembled our top tips to help take the best trips you can – heart attack or no heart attack.
Seek expert advice
It might sound obvious when you read it out loud – but the first thing you should do when planning a holiday, following a heart attack, is to ensure your doctor feels you’re fit to travel!
“A holiday is a great way to relax and unwind, but it is best to wait until you have fully recovered from a heart attack before you start planning an overseas holiday,” says Lucy Wilkinson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation (www.bhf.org.uk).
Some estimates have said you should wait at least six weeks before travelling (up to three months, for more severe attacks) but this is something you need to establish with your doctor, or specialist, specifically.
Choose a suitable holiday and destination
While we encourage you to see the world and pursue the holiday of your dreams, it’s fair to say that certain destinations – or activities – might be best avoided if you’ve had a heart attack.
Let’s address the big concern: are you able to fly and go abroad? Well, the short answer is that you’ll generally find that – once you are deemed to be at ‘low risk’ of another heart attack – you’ll be permitted to fly. However, you need to make sure your doctor is happy with your decision to fly, and that your holiday might not put more stress on your heart.
For example, Lucy Wilkinson recommends against destinations with extreme temperatures and high altitudes (above 2,000 metres). Additionally, long journeys can increase your risk of associated conditions (like deep vein thrombosis, or DVT) so make sure you take frequent breaks and walk around!
And what if you just intend to take a staycation or a quick trip across the Channel? Well, in that case, you might want to skip the hassle of flying and drive to your holiday – but this comes with its own, different requirements.
The DVLA strongly recommend that people who have experienced a heart attack should stop driving altogether for, at least, four weeks. Following this, however, it’s up to you and your doctor. Once you start to feel confident going behind the wheel, speak to your GP or specialist for a suitable judgement and qualified advice.
We’d also suggest that you avoid driving alone. Keeping a trusted passenger with you for moral support could also help to boost your confidence and get you back to driving again like your normal self in no time. Plus, we all know the fun of the holidays is better shared!
Travel in confidence, travel insured
Finally, we’d always encourage you to travel with comprehensive travel insurance whether you’re going abroad, or staying close to home.
Experiencing a heart attack is already an ordeal – so don’t put yourself at risk of another one by travelling uninsured. Visit our site to generate a bespoke policy with the right cover for you and your conditions. That way, should the unfortunate occur and you need some support, you know you’re in good hands.
Finally, let us leave you with a few of our team’s top tips
- Plan the dates of your holidays: avoiding the worst weather by travelling off-season can reduce the strain on your heart – and help you to avoid interfering with your ongoing care!
- Keep up your healthy habits: We all want to let our hair down while on holiday but maintaining your healthy habits can help avoid any aches, pains or issues during your trip. You’ll also need to keep taking any prescribed medication – so keep an up-to-date-list, and enough to last your whole trip!
- Know your limits: Try not to over-exert yourself on holiday. Watch out for activities that might cause you strain, and try to situations like dehydration or extreme temperatures, which might affect you more than the rest of your travelling party.
Hopefully, this article has helped equip you to face travel following a heart attack – as we believe that a heart attack should not be the end of your worldwide adventures.
We here at Medical Travel Compared hope you thoroughly enjoy your trips – and we hope you’ll make us a part of your trips going forward. Don’t forget that we can search through over 30 providers to help you find a specialist policy, fit for you and your holiday.