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Travel Must-Knows of a Heart Warrior

Friday, December 15, 2017

By Jara Weinkauf

Travelling is one of my favourite things to do in my free time. But as life has it, exploring the world with a congenital heart disease can be slightly different than usual.

No More Metal Detectors

Since my pacemaker implant in 2015 I was advised that I am not longer allowed to walk through metal detectors, as these could disturb the pacemaker. Even though the risk that this happens is super low, my doctor still highly recommends avoiding them. This is usually not a big deal, as staff at airports is very well trained and they simply ask me to walk around the metal detector and do a body pat-down search instead. However, on my recent trip to India I experienced some issues. Temples, palaces or points of interests, even hotels, had metal detectors at the entrance, but staff did not always understand that I have a pacemaker. In case staff still did not understand, I simply walked around the metal detector, which surprisingly never got me into trouble. So much for safety…

On my packing list, and in all my wallets, I now have a pacemaker registration card in case any officer ever wants to see this.

Thrombosis Socks

Another item on the packing list are thrombosis socks. Especially for long haul flights my doctors recommended to wear them to avoid any blood clots. These socks are not very pretty and make my legs look even pastier but they do not take up much space in my luggage and actually they are also highly recommended for everyone not suffering from heart disease.

Climate and Location

There are a thousand places I would like to visit, but over the past years I have also noticed that I have difficulties with certain climates. Unfortunately I can’t take altitude or hot humidity very well. There have been occasions when the altitude made me faint and humidity had me slow down. Even though I should probably avoid the mountains and tropical places, I am still curious to see all these fantastic places and rather adapt my activities when I am visiting such places. I usually take it quite slow and take more breaks, pack a lot of water and some chocolate. Luckily my companions never mind taking a break or waiting for me, so I can manage to find a way to visit places in climates that have me struggle a bit.

Travel Insurance

I have to admit that I can be a bit careless when it comes to insurances, because it’s just so hard to understand and can be plain boring. Luckily, my mom’s overly careful character comes in handy in this situation as she actually arranged travel insurance for me. Particularly for exotic trips like India it is smart to have travel insurance when you have a heart disease, just in case of emergency. Fortunately I never needed it, and if I was completely healthy I would probably also bother less, but with a CHD I am more at risk, and want to try to manage these things better.


Similar to many other heart warriors I am taking medication daily. I am taking a blood thinner regularly to keep my international normalized ratio (INR), a blood test used to determine if the blood thinner is working effectively, in check. When travelling it is crucial that these things are always on top of my list. This also means that I have to plan ahead for longer journeys, to ensure I have enough medication in store. For trips that last more than two weeks, I usually also pack my INR computer to keep checking my INR level.


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The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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