Heart of the matter

BENGALURU : Are you a frequent flier? As a victim of a heart attack, are you worried of seeking new adventures? Well, having a heart disease shouldn’t stop you from indulging your wanderlust. You can continue to be a travel bug even after an unfortunate heart attack. Following simple precautions can help reduce the risk of a reoccurrence of heart attack. The idea is to be aware of the risk factors and live cautiously to avoid further complications.

It is normal to feel traumatised after a heart attack, depending on the severity of the condition. It may affect the ability to carry out normal routine activities, hinder your work life and recovery process and make the road to recovery difficult. However, do not let your heart make you give up on your dreams of travelling or pursuing adventurous activities. Ensure you are well equipped with your medical kit when you are flying or traveling for long hours.


Studies suggest that travelling is good for your mind and health. It helps in reducing stress, improving quality of sleep and decreasing chances of developing heart ailments, especially in women. Most people with heart problems can travel by bus, train and flights safely without any health risks but only after taking precautions and discussing travel plans with their doctor. According to an American Heart Journal report, it is safe to fly after two to three weeks after a heart attack but keep an eye out for shortness of breath, chest pain, arrhythmia, irregular heartbeat, sweating, body pain as symptoms indicating an unstable state. It is advisable to seek immediate medical attention or call for an ambulance if you experience these symptoms of heart attack while travelling.

Since suffering from long-hour travel sickness can be stressful, taking short breaks can help. One might feel shortness of breath as the air becomes thin while travelling at higher altitude. This may lead to low oxygen supply in the blood. In such cases, do not hesitate to inform the flight attendant and seek help. Sitting immobile for long hours in a flight can be exhausting, and may increase the chances of developing blot clots in the legs. You can prevent this by getting up and walking around in the aisle whenever possible. Placing a pillow, cushion or rolled up towel on your chest may help reduce the pressure on the wounds for those who underwent open heart surgeries recently.


Your ability to drive after a heart attack is highly dependent on your pace of recovery. You might be asked to take rest from driving for a minimum of 2 to 4 weeks after a heart attack or at least 4 weeks after an open-heart surgery. It is advisable to consult your treating doctor for approval if you wish to start driving again.

Keep in mind while travelling or driving

Carry your medications. Learn about the side effects of medicines you are taking and check with your doctor for emergency medication.

Consume a heart-healthy diet. Include vegetables and fruits, and grains. Limit unhealthy fats and salt intake.

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration as it can cause blood clots. Pack lightly, don’t overload.

Keep a track of nearby emergency medical facilities closer to your destination.

Always drive with someone to look after you in case of medical emergencies.