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Lower Stress to Avoid Heart Attacks While Traveling

March 18, 2010

With the weather turning nice, I'm sure travel plans are starting to develop for many families. Travel, although intended to help us relax, can be stressful too. According to a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, certain time periods and circumstances can increase your risk of heart attack, such as:

  • The first two days of your journey
  • Difficult driving conditions
  • Poor accommodations (although no specific ones were named)

Careful planning, and then relaxing and being willing to accept any unforeseen events as part of the adventure can ease this.

Some of the biggest threats to travelers with heart disease are associated with flying. Prolonged sitting (especially over eight hours), dehydration and decreased oxygen aboard airplanes can all contribute to venous thrombosis or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). This is when clots form in the veins of the legs, arms or pelvis, which can lead to a heart attack.

To combat this, it’s a good idea for anyone to wear compression stockings, and make sure that you move your keep your legs moving, while sitting as well as taking the opportunity to stand up and walk around frequently. And remember to avoid alcohol, as tempting as it may be for it’s ability to relax you and help you sleep, because it can lead to dehydration, which increases heart rate.

All travelers with heart disease should also make sure to:

  • Consult your doctor before embarking on your trip
  • Keep in mind that extremely hot or cold destinations and high altitudes pose unique risks for heart patients. Make sure you have insurance to cover you during your travels, preferably with evacuation coverage.
  • Get local medical emergency contact information for your destination.
  • Prepare a file with names and contact information for your healthcare providers at home, contact information for manufacturers of pacemakers or implanted cardiac defibrillators (ICD), a copy of your normal EKG and a list of all your medications.