Traveling safely with heart disease: what should you consider ?, Deutsche Herzstiftung eV, press release

Altitude, heat, tropical climate, and dirty air can increase the stress of heart patients. The Heart Foundation explains what you should know about arrhythmias and pacemakers, heart failure, or after a heart attack

People with heart disease such as coronary artery disease (CHD), heart arrhythmias, valve disease, and heart failure (heart failure) usually don’t have to do without traveling. Anyone with heart disease who uses the summer to travel should plan their trip well. “In principle, those affected should always consult their doctor in good time to find out if and when a trip is possible or not,” says Heart Foundation expert Dr. doctor Magnus Baumhäkel at The cardiologist and vascular specialist resident in Saarbrücken advises heart patients to undergo another check-up four to six weeks before the trip, so that they can check the stability of the disease and the drug be changed if necessary. “This is the only way to avoid risks due to overexertion or misjudgment.” .de / urlaub-herzpatient or by phone on 069 955128-400.

How resilient are you to your disease?

The first clue as to whether a trip is advisable is the question of resilience. In general, the following applies: Physical performance should not be significantly limited. Certain heart surgery and diseases should be done for some time to be able to go on vacation safely:

  • An expansion of the coronary arteries, insertion of an implantable defibrillator or pacemaker should generally take place 1-2 weeks before the trip begins. Short-term travel is possible, but should be discussed with the treating physician / cardiologist.
  • A heart attack or heart surgery should have occurred 2-4 weeks ago.

Hot, cold, altitude: the right travel destination?

When choosing the right vacation destination, heart patients should take into account climate and time changes. Without precautionary measures, very high temperatures can, for example, cause a circulatory collapse or cardiac arrhythmia in already exposed people (Info:ärme). Staying at a high altitude can put a strain on the heart muscle and, in the worst case, lead to a heart attack. Especially at altitudes above 2500 m, “thinner” air ensures less oxygen in the arteries. The heart counteracts this through sympathetic activation, which among other things increases the heart rate. However, this puts a strain on an already weak heart. “Tropical and subtropical, arctic and subarctic climates are generally not recommended for heart patients because they strain the cardiovascular system,” Baumhäkel emphasizes, adding: “It makes more sense to choose a climate zone that the body is already adapting to. used to it.” Spring and autumn are the best times to travel for heart patients.

Check the air quality in your travel destination in advance!

Air pollution can also put a strain on the cardiovascular system. Airborne pollutants such as fine dust, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides promote inflammation, inflammatory messenger substances from the lungs enter the circulatory system and have a favorable effect on vascular diseases such as deposits in the arterial walls (arteriosclerosis). This applies, for example, to CHD, cardiac arrhythmias and hypertension. “Depending on the type of heart or circulatory disease, air pollution at the travel destination can have an adverse effect on the disease in a short period of time, in the worst case it can trigger a complication such as a heart or brain infarction or lead to a hospital stay for patients with heart failure, “says Baumhäkel. Cardiac patients should therefore inquire about local air quality in advance. Information on air quality worldwide can be found at

Better to take it easy

Heart patients should slowly get used to the holiday destination, i.e. B. avoid hiking in the mountains in the first few days or avoid long sunbathing. On vacation, regular light to medium exercise is also desirable, eg. B. hiking or biking, but not in the midday sun. “If you want to swim, you should discuss this with your doctor beforehand. After all, if you suddenly get into very cold water or go out, there could be circulatory problems, “says Baumhäkel. Patients taking medication should stick to their usual intake times, as this reduces the risk of forgetting the medication. Because eating habits can change. During the holidays, heart patients who are taking Marcumar anticoagulant due to an artificial heart valve or atrial fibrillation should check their clotting at shorter intervals. High-fat foods and unusually high consumption of foods containing vitamin K they can compromise the Marcumar effect.

Who should give up traveling?

In some cases, people with heart problems are advised not to travel. This includes patients with

  • Angina pectoris (chest tightness) with low loads such as. B. Go up the stairs
  • increased angina pectoris (chest tightness),
  • shortness of breath during reduced exertion such as walking on flat ground or climbing stairs,
  • increased shortness of breath or increased edema,
  • repeated dizziness
  • and sudden loss of consciousness (syncope).

Heart tip for implantable defibrillators / pacemakers

Some pacemaker systems have the ability to program a circadian rhythm. When changing time zones, this function must be deactivated in advance. Walk-in detectors can be used with pacemakers / defibrillators as part of security checks. However, if possible, manual metal detectors should not be guided directly to the unit (show pacemaker ID). Further information at:

Holidays in the time of Corona: Tourists should inquire about pandemic regulations at their destination, travel alerts, and quarantine requirements upon their return home prior to travel. Before booking, heart patients should inquire about their hotel’s corona safety measures: what cleaning and disinfection processes are used when and where and the staff wear masks? How does the hotel’s ventilation system work? etc. The rules of conduct must be observed on site (AHA + L formula):

  • Keep your distance (at least 1.5 meters),
  • Respect hygiene rules (correct coughing, sneezing and thorough hand washing),
  • wearing a mask in everyday life and on the go
  • and regular ventilation inside

If heart patients have to stay longer in the holiday country due to an orderly quarantine, they should make sure they have a sufficient supply of the necessary medications.

Service Tips

Checklist for added security

The German Heart Foundation offers a travel checklist on the most important points for good travel preparation and the possibility to order a travel set for people with heart disease free of charge at or by phone on 069 955128-400

News from the imPULS podcast series with a focus on travel

Heat, altitude and hustle and bustle – travel safely despite heart failure

In the current installment of imPULS, cardiologist Prof. Stephan von Haehling explains what travel preparations are, why breaks are particularly important while traveling, and how the climate, air pollution and altitude in the holiday resort can worsen. heart failure. Listen at

Information on swimming, hiking and cycling:

Travel aids for heart patients

In order for heart patients to travel as safely as possible, the Heart Foundation offers a free travel set (1x travel preparation checklist, 1x medical phrasebook for cardiac emergencies abroad, 1x emergency card) and other useful material : www.herzstiftung. de / urlaub -herzpatiente

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