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Traveling with a Health Condition: Tips from the American Heart Association

As the holiday season approaches, many individuals are gearing up for travel to spend quality time with loved ones or unwind in picturesque locations. For those managing chronic health conditions like heart disease or stroke, however, travel preparations involve more than just packing essentials.

Dr. Gladys Velarde, a national volunteer with the American Heart Association and a professor of medicine at the University of Florida in Jacksonville, emphasizes that careful planning can transform travel concerns into exciting adventures.

"Travel is not always that simple for people with chronic health conditions," says Dr. Velarde. "But a little planning and preparation can take the stress out of travel and prepare you for your next big adventure."

Here are some essential tips for travelers with chronic health conditions:

  1. Consult Your Healthcare Provider:

    • Discuss your travel plans with your primary care physician or specialist.
    • Carry a copy of your key medical records and emergency contact information.
  2. Manage Medications:

    • Ensure medications are clearly labeled and sufficient for the entire trip.
    • Carry a list of all medications, dosages, and pharmacy information.
    • Coordinate with your healthcare provider for adjustments when traveling across time zones.
  3. Transporting Medical Devices:

    • Plan for transporting special medical equipment and devices.
    • Check with your transportation provider for guidance on wheelchairs, walkers, or other assistance.
    • Pack necessary medical devices such as portable oxygen or CPAP machines.
  4. Research Your Destination:

    • Consider the local climate and elevation's impact on your health.
    • Familiarize yourself with local emergency numbers and medical facilities.
  5. Air Travel Tips:

    • Request a wheelchair or courtesy cart for navigating busy airports.
    • If you have a pacemaker or ICD, be prepared for special security screening.
    • Combat the risk of blood clots during long flights with compression socks and regular movement.

Dr. Velarde suggests additional precautions for air travel during the busy holiday season, emphasizing the importance of staying hydrated and recognizing the signs of a heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest.

"Maintaining your health while traveling is crucial," says Dr. Velarde. "Tailor your travel plans to your specific needs, and by taking a little time now to plan and prepare, you can enjoy your holiday or vacation, helping you unwind and recharge."

Learn more about healthy traveling at

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