Depending on the severity of your procedure along with your doctor's permission, you may be able to travel as little as 3-6 weeks after your treatment.
However, if you’re travelling to go on holiday, it’s advised that you wait until at least 6 weeks to make sure you have had enough time to recover. More serious heart conditions can take as long as 3 months before you are allowed to travel.
Take into account the type of holiday you’re going on – ensuring that you take out the right travel insurance policy, which covers all your declared pre-existing medical conditions.
Choose your destination sensibly and avoid, strenuous activities, high altitudes and do not travel too soon after your heart attack or procedure.
Following permission from your GP, generally speaking - if you can walk briskly for 100 metres on the flat without being in pain or breathless you should be able to travel by air.
If you have been given a GTN spray as part of your medication – it is safe to use in a pressurised cabin. The functioning of your pacemaker or mitral heart valve won’t be affected by the airport security systems, but let security know that you have this in case they cause metal detectors to go off.
To summarise – if you’ve suffered a heart attack in the past, you shouldn’t feel worried about flying provided you feel confident enough in yourself to do so, along with your GP’s blessing. The right type of specialist travel insurance can keep you covered for your condition while abroad.
See our heart attack travel insurance page for more information on this.
Arrange for transport within the airport in advance, and arrive early to book seats with more leg room. Do not handle heavy baggage keeping exertion to a minimum. If you require oxygen, then this must be requested at least 48 hours in advance (ideally at time of booking).
Notify airport staff of any medication you will need for the journey, with an accompanying GP's note to support its usage. Keep this in your hand luggage.
Make sure all of your medication is clearly labelled – and you have an adequate enough supply to last the duration of your flight. Keep well hydrated, and, if you haven’t booked one beforehand – try and ensure you have an aisle seat, so you can stand up more easily and walk around to stretch your legs.
This is especially important for patients that may be at risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Heart problems and flying needn’t be an issue if you’ve taken all the necessary precautions and advice to ensure you enjoy a comfortable and stress-free flight.
The length of time between suffering a heart attack and being cleared to board an aircraft again depends on a number of different factors.
Essentially this depends on your likelihood to have another heart attack in the future. People who are at a lower risk of this happening (generally people below the age of 65, who have only suffered a heart attack in the past) may be able to fly again as soon as 3 days after.
On the other hand, older people, who may have had further heart complications – may be advised to wait at least 10 days before flying after a heart attack.
Either way, the best thing to do is to consult your GP or specialist if you’re considering booking a flight anywhere. They might be best placed to give you the best possible advice based on your personal circumstances.
Undergoing heart surgery is a complex and serious medical procedure which requires the patient to get as much rest as possible before resuming life as they would do normally.
Depending on the nature of your individual surgery, it might take a while before you should even consider boarding a plane. First of all, check your airlines specific regulations with regards to heart operations.
The Civil Aviation Authority has more specific guidelines for you to assess before making any concrete decisions about flying. They suggest that in most cases, it should be fine to fly 10 days following chest surgery.
However, this is again dependent on the nature of your procedure and also what your GP or specialist recommends. It’s therefore wise to have a chat with them beforehand to get a better idea about when you can realistically think about flying again.
Again, while your doctor’s advice is important here – it’s very important that you feel completely confident and comfortable in your own health before you even consider getting back behind the wheel of a car following a heart attack or heart surgery.
If you’ve been cleared to drive again, but are still feeling anxious – then it’s probably a good idea to wait a little longer.
To drive safely, you need to feel assured and stable. Your GP or specialist can make a suitable judgment and give qualified advice based on your individual circumstances, so once you feel like you might be ready to drive again – they are most likely your first point of contact.
The DVLA strongly recommends that people who have experienced a heart attack should stop driving altogether for at least four weeks.
Once this period of time has elapsed, you should reflect on how you feel within yourself before getting your doctor’s advice about when you can resume driving again. Once you do start driving again, it might be wise to drive only short distances to build your confidence back up again.
It might also be better to avoid driving alone. Keeping a trusted passenger with you for moral support could also help to boost your confidence and get you back to driving again like your normal self in no time.
Having a heart attack is a major ordeal for anyone to endure. But, once this has been medically treated, and a period of time has passed, with the right planning and preparation – travelling after a heart attack should be perfectly fine and as hassle-free as possible.
It's important to ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you travel – declaring your pre-existing medical conditions before you make your purchase. A specialist heart attack travel insurance policy will include all the benefits you need to give you peace of mind during your trip.
Our online quote comparison tool allows you to declare all your pre-existing medical conditions to a range of travel insurance providers that specialise in covering heart conditions.
Once there, keep your condition in mind – especially if it's fairly soon after your heart attack. Don’t over exert yourself. The body can react differently on holiday, particularly in the heat, so beware of dehydration and exhaustion. Medicines react differently too so ensure that are taken accordingly and stored properly.
With some sensible planning and looking after yourself whilst away, travelling after a heart attack should still be an enjoyable experience and one you should hope to enjoy for a long time going forward.