If you are planning a trip, here is some general guidance for you to consider before and during your holiday:
1. Make an appointment with your doctor. they know your medical history, so they are always the best person to advise you.
- Tell them how long you are going for
- Ask if you need to take any precautions
- Ask if any immunisations are necessary
- Ask them if any significant local time changes will make a difference to how you take medication
- If applicable, discuss self-monitoring for INR while away
- Discuss any other particular concerns which you may have
2. Find out about local medical facilities and make a list of hospital telephone numbers and addresses, and if applicable, pacemaker and device specialist centres.
If you have a device fitted, it may be uncommon at some exotic locations.
3. If you’re an EU citizen travelling to or via the continent, take your EHIC card.
Anyone over the age of 16 can apply for an EHIC card online or by calling the NHS on 0845 606 2030. Many websites offering EHIC cards will ask for a fee, but this is not necessary because they are free of charge if you apply through the NHS.
4. Get a medical ID bracelet or necklace and wear it on you during the trip.
This may state your medical condition, any implanted devices you may have, medication you take, and your doctor's contact details. Digital ID is available and carries a lot of information on your condition.
5. Take advice from your INR clinic on change of diet while travelling.
6. Be aware of INR test centres or discuss with your doctor self monitoring for INR while away.
7. Get some flight socks (also known as compression stockings) to help blood flow.
Studies show that wearing them during flights of four hours or more can significantly reduce swollen ankles and risk of DVT. They come in a variety of sizes and there are also different levels of compression. Flight socks are available from pharmacies, airports and many retail outlets. It's vital that compression stockings are measured and worn correctly. Ill-fitting stockings could further increase the risk of DVT. Take advice on size and proper fitting from a pharmacist or other health professional.
8. Remember to pack more medication than you will need in your baggage.
9. If you have recently had DVT you are probably taking an anticoagulant to prevent the formation of blood clots. If that's the case then your risk of developing DVT is low and there is no reason why you can't travel, including long-haul. However, if you're still in the recovery phase, you should get the all-clear from your doctor before travelling.
1. Take more medication with you than is required in your hand luggage in case of travel delays or loss.
2. Carry a list of medications and doses.
3. Tell airport security about any implants. Don’t go through metal detectors because they may interfere with your device. Ask to be frisked manually.
4. Get up and stretch your legs while travelling to reduce the risk of blood clots forming.
5. Do anti-DVT exercises at least every half an hour. Raise your heels, keeping your toes on the floor, then bring them down again. Do this 10 times. Then raise and lower your toes 10 times.
6. Carry water to counter the effects of dehydration.
7. Wear loose comfortable clothes.
8. Wear your flight socks throughout the flight.
9. Drink alcohol in moderation or cut out altogether, and avoid sleeping pills.
10. Take advice on how to take medication if on long haul flights with significant time changes.
At the destination
1. Keep as much as you can to your normal sleep pattern to avoid becoming over-tired.
2. Try not to exert yourself more than you usually do. Pushing yourself too hard could trigger AF symptoms.
3. Stick to your normal diet as much as possible. Alcohol and overeating can trigger AF.
4. Get immediate medical help if you have unusual AF symptoms.
The AFA has compiled a list of travel insurance providers who are able to provide insurance for people with medical conditions. Inclusion on the list does not constitute approval from the Atrial Fibrillation Association (AFA) and any insurance provided is the responsibility of the individual concerned.
Click here to view the list.
World First Travel Insurance
www.world-first.co.uk or call 0845 90 80 161
Compare travel insurance premiums through PayingTooMuch.com. If you have pre-existing medical conditions to declare, they can compare travel insurance to include these on the policy.