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Holiday insurance for people who’ve had heart attacks

If you’ve suffered a heart attack in the past, it’s likely that your doctor has told you to ‘take it easy’. Relaxing and avoiding physical stress are two of the most important parts of any recovery, so taking regular holidays is a great idea.

Whilst travelling after a heart attack can be a little daunting, it needn’t be a problem so long as you prepare thoroughly. The key thing is to chat with your doctor before planning any trips – together you can discuss your current condition and any precautions you might need to take.

What is a heart attack?

Although the term will more than likely be familiar, not everyone will know what happens during a heart attack, or how they come about.

A heart attack is a serious medical emergency that happens when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly stopped, meaning it can’t get any oxygen. This usually occurs when one of the arteries around or within the heart is blocked by a blood clot.

Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain – feelings of pressure around the heart can extend to the neck, jaw, back and arms
  • Feelings of dizziness and fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden feelings of overwhelming anxiety

Heart attacks can cause serious, permanent damage to the muscle and, in some cases, are fatal.

What risk factors are associated with heart attacks?

The leading cause of heart attacks is coronary heart disease (CHD), a condition which involves the coronary arteries being blocked by cholesterol plaques. When one of these plaques bursts, a clot develops and an attack can follow.

The key to preventing heart attacks is to reduce the risk of CHD where possible. Among the risk factors for this are:

  • A high-fat diet
  • Generally poor eating habits
  • Excessive cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking

Enjoying a holiday after a heart attack

According to Heart UK, someone will have a heart attack every seven minutes in the UK, and more than 1.5 million people are living with the after effects right now. Many, however, still travel without any major restrictions.

Here are some handy tips to help ensure you travel safely after a heart attack:

Wait until you’re ready

Recovering from a heart attack – however severe it was – can take time and you must be patient. In some cases, low-risk sufferers (those below the age of 65 who have never had an attack before) are able to travel as soon as three days after their procedure, according to the NHS. In most cases of minor attacks, however, doctors will advise waiting at least three to six weeks before flying.

If you’ve had a more serious heart attack, your doctor will likely request that you wait at least three months before travelling far. Just remember that everyone’s situation is different, so whatever instruction is given, be sure to listen to it – ignoring professional guidance could lead to complications or even further attacks.

Pick your destination carefully

If you’re taking your first holiday since having a heart attack, it’s wise to pick somewhere comfortable where you can relax. The last thing your heart needs is extra stress and pressure, so a slow break in a sleepy Spanish coastal resort may be more suitable than a hiking holiday in the Canadian countryside. That’s not to say you have to stay holed up in the hotel, but it’s best to give yourself the choice when you’re feeling tired.

Further down the line, a more active holiday may well be on the cards, but even then make sure that you’re visiting somewhere that has all of the necessary medical provisions. A remote jungle village with no hospital in sight would be a bad idea, for example.

Transport is another consideration – will there be buses and trams to use, or will you have to walk everywhere? The former is certainly preferable.

Speak to your doctor in advance

Chances are heart attacks aren’t a regular thing for you, but they’re something your doctor will help people with often. They’ll know how best to ensure a complete recovery afterwards, and they’ll be able to help you understand your limitations. Your doctor may even be able to recommend specific types of holiday that might be more suitable at your stage of recovery.

A chat with your GP or consultant will also allow you to get all of the appropriate medication together in preparation for your trip. Depending on what you need to take, there may be a waiting period, so be sure to do this with plenty of time. It’s also worth contacting your airline in advance in case there are any restrictions on what you can take in your hand luggage.

Arrange the right travel protection

It’s always advisable to arrange travel insurance as soon as your holiday is booked, regardless of your health, but it’s important to note that not all policies will cover you if you’ve suffered a heart attack in the past.

Thankfully, this needn’t get in the way of your plans, it just means you’ll have to do some research and pick carefully. What you need is a specialist policy that will pay out should you be forced to end your trip early or cancel it altogether. This is something that Free Spirit provides for travellers every day, and it’s easy to get a quote. Note: please make sure you read the policy wording carefully as there are terms, conditions and exclusions that apply.

Our fully interactive website has a medical screening process, which means you can screen online – all it takes is a few questions about your heart attack procedure and any other medical conditions.

Once we have accurate and honest answers, we can provide a quote and, if you are happy with everything, you can then purchase the cover to make sure you’re fully protected for your holiday. The sooner this is done, the sooner you can relax knowing everything is sorted.

Some of the questions we may ask you about your heart attack include:

  • Have you ever had a heart bypass, an angioplasty or a coronary stent
  • Have you ever been a smoker?
  • How many heart attacks have you had?
  • How long ago was your most recent heart attack?
  • Are you awaiting any tests or test results?

We pride ourselves on providing the best possible cover for all of our customers, and in order to do this, we must be thorough. You’ll likely be asked other questions during the screening process, just be sure to answer them accurately.

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We’re here to help

To find out more about our specialist travel insurance for people who’ve had heart attacks, head to our FAQs page, or get in touch with our friendly customer services team by calling 0800 170 7704. We’re open Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm. We’re closed on bank holidays.

For further information, take the time to read our Summary of Cover and Insurance Policy.

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Last updated: 15th June 2016.