Traveling can be stressful. Traveling with a heart condition like myocarditis can be even more daunting. But neither should be impossible, even during the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it’s much needed. The time away with different scenery can have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing. However, if you’re traveling with someone who has myocarditis there are also some precautions and considerations you must take. Think about the following when you plan your next getaway.
1. Consult a doctor before traveling.
This should be the first priority on your list. This is mainly precautionary, but it’s a good idea to get medical advice before you embark on your trip. Depending on where you plan on traveling, their doctor might offer insights on how certain regions and methods of travel will impact your traveling partner’s condition. Doctors can also provide you with up-to-date medical records to bring on your travels since there is always a possibility that one of you might misplace a copy.
Visiting the doctor just before you travel is also a last-minute opportunity to discuss any myocarditis research that took place since your travel partner’s last check-up. They might also ask to have a CMR done before their travels to make sure their condition hasn’t worsened. Additionally, there might be new recommendations or treatments to learn. Listen to what their doctor has to say, take plenty of notes, and adjust travel plans accordingly.
2. Be mindful of their fluid consumption.
Dehydration can lead to other complications quickly. Make sure your travel partner drinks plenty of hydrating fluids like water, seltzer, and juices. It’s also a healthy practice to limit alcohol consumption while in the act of traveling. Not only can they inhibit good judgment, but it will also dehydrate the body faster. If you plan on being outdoors, plan accordingly. Bring plenty of liquids, and make sure you’re the one that will be carrying the bulk of the load. Water can get heavy quickly if you plan on doing any physical activity.
3. Watch their sodium intake.
Another food you’ll want to monitor closely is sodium as it can aggravate heart conditions. When your body has added levels of sodium in it, it pulls water into the blood vessels. This causes an increase in blood pressure. People suffering from diseases like myocarditis or cardiomyopathy will want to avoid the added sodium levels if they can. Remember, the heart muscle doesn’t need to work any harder because of what you eat.
Try to find places and foods for you all to eat that won’t irritate these conditions further. If you can, plan out some restaurants ahead of time to make sure their menus are in line with the quality you are looking for. When ordering, take the lead on asking the server to not salt your entree.
4. Be cautious with high altitudes.
Flying or staying in a mountainous area is not out of the question, but they do require some added concern due to the higher risk of heart failure in these locations. The United States has a low rate of people dying while flying with a heart condition, but people with heart conditions or weak myocardium are at a higher risk. Make sure you’ve alerted the cabin crew of your companion’s condition in the case that your travel bubby becomes ill during the flight.
If you are going to do any traveling that involves flying or a final destination with higher altitudes, be mindful of how they will affect your travel companion’s condition. Leg swelling and inflammation can occur in these scenarios so make sure to track their progress throughout the flight.
When visiting destinations in higher altitudes, make sure you rest often. There is less oxygen in the air which can have negative consequences for people suffering from coronary artery disease or myocarditis. Don’t overdo anything.
Make sure you’ll have access to a cell phone or emergency personal if needed. Check that the locations you’ll be visiting have cell phone service for your provider.
5. Let them have the aisle seat.
If you do need to fly, take a bus, or a train, make sure you give the individual with myocarditis the aisle seat. This will give them the space to stretch their legs and easily stand up and move around if they need to. As previously mentioned, leg swelling can be an issue in this case. COVID-19 has caused many forms of public transportation to limit their seating occupancy so make sure your friend has priority seating.
Not only will sitting in the aisle give them stretching benefits but if they need assistance from medical personal, they will have easier access to your travel partner.
6. Be familiar with their medication.
Cardiac disease impacts many Americans. However, people with cardiac disease are not all taking the exact same prescriptions. There are numerous guidelines for each. You don’t have to be a cardiologist to know that some prescriptions shouldn’t be taken during certain situations. If an emergency arises and they need to get their medication, it’s a wise idea to have an understanding of which one they will need to take.
Also, be privy to where they store them. In the unlikely event that they can’t speak for themselves, you’ll be able to access their medications whether or not they can assist you.
7. Plan to get up and walk around.
We already talked about the importance of moving around on a plane, but that isn’t the only place you might have restless legs. Make sure you aren’t being too sedentary during your travels in general. Get up, move around, and make sure you are keeping the blood flowing. Again, this should be done in moderation. There should never be an incident where you push your friend with heart disease too far. There is a significant difference between not be sedentary and overworking.
8. Get the right stockings.
Getting a travel gift isn’t a bad idea if you’re traveling with someone with myocarditis. Especially stockings. The right compression stockings can go a long way in keeping circulation healthy during long periods of travel. This won’t make the difference between health and sudden death, but they can increase comfort and healthy practices. Look for compression stockings that have good reviews, have been on the market in recent years, and are easy to get on and off.
9. Think of ways to destress.
Traveling is often associated with distressing, but sometimes it’s for work or a business function. If you’re planning a trip along the northeast, there are so many ways to distress whether it’s historical sightseeing or just simply relaxing with a book. The key to the south is to find beautiful places outdoors. Beaches and parks can be great spots to destress. When you are at these locations, make sure you have some meditative music planned to listen to. Whatever you need to destress, bring it with you in some form or fashion. It will help you and your friend relax.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The key to safely traveling is to prepare but to also ask for help. This could be done by consulting a cardiologist before your trip, but also with people while you are on vacation. Listen to your friend and what they are telling you. Don’t wait until they are beyond the point of seeking assistance to get it.
These tips, and any advice from a doctor, will go a long way in making your travel plans safer and more enjoyable.