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Travel insurance for heart disease

When you live with heart disease, taking regular holidays is a great way to relax and minimise stress. It’s important, however, to plan ahead carefully when you are going to be away from home for a little while.

First and foremost, it’s important to talk to your doctor before booking any trips. They will be able to confirm that you are well enough to go away. You can also discuss the things you should and shouldn’t be doing during your holiday.

What is heart disease?

The term ‘heart disease’ is often used interchangeably with ‘cardiovascular disease’ and generally refers to conditions that involve or cause narrowed or blocked blood vessels. These can in turn lead to further problems such as heart attacks, angina and strokes.

The catch-all term can also cover heart rhythm problems and defects, such as arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation, as well as the things that cause them.

Please note, it is important that you check that all the conditions relating to your heart are declared to the travel insurance provider so that you are properly covered.

Figures published by British Heart Foundation estimate there to be seven million people living with cardiovascular disease in the UK; 3.5 million men and 3.5 million women.

What risk factors are associated with heart disease?

There is no single cause of heart disease, and it can affect anyone. Among the risk factors are:

  • Family history of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, strokes and angina
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise

Enjoying a holiday with a heart condition

Living with a heart condition can be tough, but enjoying a relaxing holiday can help – regardless of whether you’ve just been diagnosed or have been living with it for some time already.

Here are some useful tips to help you travel safely with heart disease:

1. Choose your destination wisely

Think carefully about where you are going and what you are likely to do when you get there. A trip to Athens, for example, may involve lots of uphill walking and narrow steps, which can place unnecessary stress on your heart.

Consider public transport as well – the easier it is to get around, the less strenuous walking you have to do. This is particularly important in warmer climes, where the heat really can sap your energy.

It’s also imperative to think about healthcare provisions, and whether you’ll have easy access to professional help in the event of a medical emergency. Some smaller islands may not have accident and emergency facilities, for example. A little research should help you locate nearby pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries that stock any relevant medication too.

2. Organise your medication in advance

Speaking of medication, it’s crucial that you sort yours out before going away for any length of time. If you are entitled to free prescription services here in the UK, the same is unlikely to be true in another country, so make sure you’re stocked up on everything you need before you leave. Take extra medication with you just to be sure, and keep a list of prescribed medicines – including all known names – in case you need more in an emergency.

3. Long haul flights

Most people with heart disease are able to fly without any trouble, but it’s certainly worth talking to your doctor about it during your chat – especially if you’re flying long haul. There are a few precautions you’ll need to take if you’ve been fitted with a pacemaker or ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) as well. Airport security will need to be made aware, and you’ll be required to take the appropriate documentation.

The risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may also be higher if you have heart disease, so be sure to invest in compression socks and move regularly during your journey. A quick walk once every hour is recommended, and stay hydrated with water.

4. Arranging the right travel cover

For most people, it is second nature to arrange travel insurance before they go on holiday, but be aware that not all policies will cover you if you have heart disease. Take the time to research what’s available. Specialist policies aimed at those with heart disease should pay out if the condition causes you to have to cancel your trip altogether, for example. Having this arranged nice and early should give you that added peace of mind needed to enjoy a holiday properly.

If your heart disease has made it difficult to secure insurance in the past, Free Spirit may be able to help.

It’s easy to get a quote for heart disease travel insurance with us. Our fully interactive website even includes medical screening. This involves us asking you various questions about your existing medical condition(s) to determine what terms will apply.

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Providing you answer all of the questions truthfully and in full, we can make sure you’re properly covered for your upcoming trip.

Some questions we may ask you about your heart condition include:

  • Have you ever had a stroke (or a mini-stroke) which caused symptoms for more than 24 hours?
  • Are you awaiting investigation and/or treatment for this condition?
  • Have you ever had a heart attack?
  • Do you suffer from atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)?
  • Do you smoke/have you ever smoked?

We like to do things thoroughly at Free Spirit, so there may well be other questions to ask. This just helps us ensure you get the cover for your medical condition(s).

We’re here to help

If you’d like to know more about our heart disease travel insurance, or have any questions whilst getting a quote on our website, head to our frequently asked questions page or get in touch with our friendly customer services team by calling 0800 170 7704. We are open Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm. We are closed on Bank Holidays.

For further details of the cover we provide, take the time to read our insurance policy.
You can also view our summary of cover by clicking here.

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    Free Spirit Manager, Mary Holt is a recognised expert in medical screening and in underwriting travel insurance for people with medical conditions. You can read Mary’s Q&As or ask Mary a question directly.
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Last updated: 19th April 2017.