Friday, 24. of October 2014
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Planning your holiday after heart valve replacement

It's holiday time at last! Time to plan where to spend your holidays this year. And in the family its just like in politics. One person wants to go to one place, the other wants to go somewhere else. A consensus has to be reached. But then there's the new heart valve! What about the long mountain hikes in the Alps now, the lazy beach holiday under palm trees, the long cycling tours in Mecklenburg, the cruise with a luxury liner or the family holiday by the sea?The same question comes up again and again: what can I ask of myself and my new heart valve? And as so often, the opinions on this vary.In principle you can assume that it is all the same to your heart valve where you spend your holidays. Once the valve is properly implanted and the heart muscle is strong - whether this is the case will emerge very soon after the operation - it can travel by plane, cycle, swim and play tennis.What is more important is how you feel. Has your doctor found that you have high blood pressure, or is your heartbeat still irregular? In other words: ask your cardiologist or family doctor for advice on how much you can do.If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, there is practically nothing to stop you going on the holiday of your choice - apart from the question of your anticoagulant therapy while you are away.Of course, you can just carry on taking the same dosage of anticoagulants as usual for these "best three weeks of the year". And then, shortly after you come back, have your INR/prothrombin value checked by the doctor. By this time four weeks are sure to have gone by. But you don't know what your INR/prothrombin value was doing during this time. Even if you adhere to your prescribed daily dose of anticoagulants, climatic changes, different food and even diarrhoea can influence coagulation. We do not know why these factors influence coagulation but they do.In order to prevent possible complications such as bleeding or thromboembolism it is advisable to use coagulation self-monitoring. People who already use coagulation self-monitoring appreciate being able to check their clotting values at more frequent intervals on holiday than when they are at home. The CoaguCheck system available for this is very handy and takes up little space in your luggage. If you are travelling by air you should be sure to take the meter onto the plane with you as hand luggage. Nothing could be more unpleasant than if your luggage - for whatever reason - did not arrive at your destination until a few days later. You should always carry your medication in your hand luggage too.A few tips: buy a pill container for your hand bag or pocket which holds at least enough medication for a few days. Wrap sufficient test strips in aluminium foil and - if you are travelling to a warm country- put them in the Minibar when you get to the hotel.

 

On this note, have a good holiday!

 

Christian Schaefer, Ratingen (Germany) (2003)

 

 

 

„Notice to patients:

Please speak to your doctor before taking any medication other than that which has been prescribed by him. Please always tell the pharmacist that you are on oral anticoagulation therapy when purchasing any medication over the counter. This also applies to creams and gels as well as to tablets.

Speak to your doctor before applying any therapy subsequent to the aforementioned information.