Seniors with Heart Conditions: Just How Friendly Are the Skies?

By: Jody Smith

Boarding a plane can seem intimidating if you're a senior with heart disease. You may wonder what would happen if you had a serious heart-related incident mid-flight. It may or may be reassuring to you to learn that according to an article on Myseniorhealthcare.com, a study reported only one emergency in air per 39,600 travelers. Of this small number, about 20 percent involved the heart, meaning that there was only one heart-related emergency for every 198,000 passengers. Yes, you could end up being the one. But the odds are still in your favor.

Have you had a recent heart attack, or do you have congestive heart failure? Talk with your doctor before you make any traveling plans. Your doctor can provide you with information that will help you travel safely.

Be aware that the combination of being obese, having coronary heart disease, and sitting for hours at a time can be a recipe for deep vein thrombosis, which is the formation of blood clots in the veins of your legs. To minimize your chances of such a development, don't drink alcohol, and do drink plenty of other liquids. Wear loose clothing. Don't sit with your legs crossed and stretch your legs and feet often while you are sitting. Get up and walk around as much as you can.

Will the change in pressure within the plane while you're flying pose problems? Cabins of airplanes flying at 3300 meters or higher are usually pressurized which means air pressure is controlled and regulated at a level that most people are comfortable with. Most airplanes that are not pressurized are generally flying below 3300 meters. This does not tend to be a problem.

However, according to Chfpatients.com, some people with heart issues should definitely not be flying. If you have congestive heart failure that is not well-controlled, or if you have high blood pressure or heart arrhythmia, you should not fly. If you have had chest surgery in less than a month you should not fly. If you have had a complicated heart attack in the past six weeks, or if you've had an uncomplicated heart attack in the past two weeks, you should not be flying.

It's a good idea to know the health care ins and outs of your ultimate destination, as well as of your stopovers. What medical facilities are there, and where are they exactly?

Look into travel insurance beforehand. Unexpected emergencies are by definition impossible to predict, but you can try to be prepared for as many contingencies as possible. Having good travel insurance is a hefty step in the right direction.

If the idea of being held captive in an airplane, no matter how congenial, makes you anxious, you might want to take a few shorter flights with stopovers of hours, or even a few days in between. This will literally let you get your feet back on the ground, and regain a more even keel before you once again shoot for the sky.

Jody Smith is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.

Sources:

Heart Diseases And Travel

http://www.myseniorhealthcare.com/Heart-Diseases-And-Travel.html

CHF Patients: Travel

http://www.chfpatients.com/faq/fly.htm

Travel tips for seniors

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Travel_tips_for_seniors

Related Links:

Traveling With Heart Disease

http://www.empowher.com/media/reference/traveling-heart-disease

Congestive Heart Failure

http://www.empowher.com/media/reference/congestive-heart-failure

Deep Vein Thrombosis: An Overview

http://www.empowher.com/deep-venous-thrombosis/content/deep-vein-thrombosis-overview

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