a woman drags a giant anatomical heart on wheels through an airport. She carries a water bottle and an enormous list is falling out of her purse

Traveling With Heart Failure

I love to travel and experience new and exciting places. I think a lot of you do as well! Traveling is a time of fun and adventure but can also be a time of great stress and worry, especially for those dealing with heart failure. Whether you travel by plane, train, or automobile, I wanted to take some time to list some tips for traveling that I have found to be very helpful.

Talk with your doc

Before you plan your trip, have a conversation with your doctor. They might have you come in for an office visit checkup to be sure that you are healthy enough to travel. They might also have specific instructions for you should your heart failure symptoms increase while on vacation. They should be able to essentially give you a plan to follow that outlines when to seek emergency medical treatment while you are away.

Stay hydrated

Don’t forget to stay on top of drinking when you are away. If your doctor has your liquid intake restricted be sure to stay within those boundaries. I know for myself, it is easy for me to forget to stay hydrated when I am on vacation. I get too excited and into what we are doing and forget. I know I need to get better at that.

Packing lists

I am a planner and list-maker to the max. I make lists for just about everything. One thing that has helped me tremendously when it comes to preparing to travel is making a detailed packing list. I have a column for clothes, medications and supplies, toiletries, and last minute things to do before we leave. I write it all out on paper and usually use a highlighter marker to cross things off as I put them in my suitcase so I don’t leave anything behind.

Research

Once you know where you are going, research about the area. Find out were the closest hospitals are to where you are staying. If you are on oxygen, check with your insurance and home care company to see where you will be able to get tank refills should you need them. Research the climate for the area you will be visiting especially if it is different from where you live and pack accordingly.

Support stockings

Support stockings can be a person with heart failure best friend, especially when going on longer trips. Whether in the car or airplane they can help reduce any swelling that can happen to your lower legs, ankles, and feet.

Extras

Be sure to have enough and even extra medication and oxygen supplies. Plan for the “what ifs” if you have a flight delay or cancellation that may delay you from getting back home.

Considerations for flying

The cabin pressure on airplanes can sometimes bother people with heart and breathing conditions. If you are able, get up and walk about the cabin to keep the blood flowing and the swelling down. Don’t forget those support stockings! Most airlines provide extra accommodations for people with medical conditions and will assist with boarding and deboarding, as well as getting around the airport. Call ahead to the airline you will be flying on and make those arrangements in advance.

Whether you are traveling for business or leisure, being prepared is key for anyone with heart failure. Don’t forget to HAVE FUN!! If you have any more tips for traveling, I would love to hear them!

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