In most cases, people with heart disease are perfectly capable of extended travel. However, they should definitely see their doctor before going on a trip of significant length or distance — especially if they’ll be gone for an extended time or are headed out of the country. (In some underdeveloped countries, medical care may be substandard.)
This is especially true for people who have recently suffered a heart attack, been hospitalized for a cardiac reason, or who have undergone heart surgery or a stenting procedure. Before embarking, get a stress test, an echocardiogram, and standard bloodwork.
In addition, traveling to elevations of 2,500 feet or more above sea level can put added strain on your heart. Because the air is thinner, you breathe less oxygen, and the heart must work harder to supply oxygen to the body. This can cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, even in healthy people.
If you’ve had a recent heart issue, talk to your doctor. And even if your heart condition is well-controlled, going to very high elevations — such as 7,000 to 10,000 feet — may require additional precautions.
If you begin to feel unwell at any elevation, you may need to go lower, or use supplemental oxygen.
In particular, if you have severe heart failure, uncontrolled very high blood pressure, or you’ve recently had a heart attack, surgery, or a stent inserted, discuss your plans with your cardiologist to learn what elevation is safe for you.
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