Planning to travel with atrial fibrillation
If you have atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disorder, you may have some concerns about traveling with your condition. But after taking a few steps to prepare, you can often go and have an enjoyable and worry-free trip.
Before you travel, discuss your travel plans with your doctor and ask any questions you have about traveling with your condition. Check with your doctor to see if he or she has any concerns about you traveling with atrial fibrillation. Your doctor may offer suggestions about traveling with your condition.
Travel tips with atrial fibrillation
Some helpful tips to remember include:
- Bring your medications. Bring all of the medications you'll need for your trip, and keep them in your carry-on luggage.
- Carry a list of your medications. Having a list of your medications will make it easier to refill the medications if you run out of them or lose them. You may also want to bring copies of your original prescriptions.
- Take your time. Get to the airport early to give yourself plenty of time before your plane is due to depart.
- Bring your doctor's phone number. Keep your doctor's phone number on hand when you travel.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet. Your doctor may recommend that you wear a medical alert bracelet with information about your condition printed on it.
- Take steps to prevent blood clots. During your plane flight, walk around when you can to prevent blood clots in your legs. Your doctor also may recommend that you wear compression stockings.
- Find medical centers close to your travel destination. Before you leave, look at medical centers close to the destination where you'll be traveling. Find out what services your health insurance will cover. This can help you to be prepared in case of an emergency.
- Check the contact information for embassies. If you're traveling internationally, bring the address and contact information of the U.S. embassies or consulates in the countries where you'll be traveling. They can help with medical care in the area and offer general advice.
- Buy travel health insurance. Buy travel health insurance and medical evacuation insurance before your trip, in case of emergency while traveling overseas.
- Monitor the effects of blood-thinning medications. If you're taking warfarin (Coumadin), a type of blood-thinning medication, you'll need regular blood tests to monitor its effects. Check with your doctor to see if you'll need to test your blood while you're away.
- Ask about high altitudes. If you're going to be staying at a high-altitude location, such as in the mountains, check with your doctor first. High altitudes may worsen some types of heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias). Your doctor may suggest that you rest and lower your normal activity level for several days after arriving at a high altitude. Also, watch for any new or unusual signs or symptoms of your condition or of altitude sickness.
With some planning, you can enjoy your travels and live an active life with atrial fibrillation.
Nov. 25, 2014
See more In-depth
- Travel and heart disease. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Travel-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_447033_Article.jsp. Accessed Nov. 3, 2014.
- Your guide to living well with heart disease. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/resources/heart/living-with-heart-disease-html.htm. Accessed Nov. 3, 2014.
- Tuttle T, et al. High altitude, air travel and heart disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 3, 2014.
- What is atrial fibrillation? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/af/. Accessed Nov. 3, 2014.
- Travelers with chronic illnesses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/chronic-illnesses. Accessed Nov. 3, 2014.
- Know and share important information about your trip. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/important-info. Accessed Nov. 14, 2014.
- Peterson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Ariz. Nov. 14, 2014.