Anyone travelling abroad should always be prepared to have to visit a doctor. It is important to have all the information and facts about your heart defect at hand, such as the exact diagnosis and the name and telephone number of the doctor treating you.
Medications sometimes have a different name abroad or contain different amounts of active ingredients. It is therefore important to know the main active ingredient and the dose of your own medicines. If the dose has been changed recently, this is also important information. In case of an emergency, it is always useful to know the nearest hospital at your destination.
It is also helpful to know how to say "I have a congenital heart defect" in the local language
It may also be necessary to have all other important information translated into the respective language. If you are planning a longer trip, it is best to talk to your doctor about it in advance.
Whether you are a backpacker or an all-inclusive tourist, you should always talk to your doctor about special travel preparations, necessary vaccinations and health risks for individual travel plans. If you have a pacemaker, it is essential that you consult your doctor beforehand.
Travelling with a congenital heart defect is usually no problem.
For your own safety, however, there are a few things you should be aware of in advance.
Travelling as adolescent or grown up with congenital heart defect.
Many factors must be taken into account when choosing a destination. For example, high altitudes, i.e. about 1,500 metres above sea level, are a problem for those who have to fight with their blood pressure. In addition to discomfort, there is also the risk of developing an oedema.
If your destination is outside the EU, you should find out in advance about the medical care and health system there.
You should also enquire in advance whether vaccinations are necessary. Extremely hot climates should be avoided by those who dehydrate quickly. Otherwise it may be necessary to visit a hospital if you are dehydrated. Cold climates should be avoided by those who feel cold easily.
If medication needs to be refrigerated, you should first make sure that there is a refrigerator in your own accommodation. Sometimes it is useful to research additional accommodation near an attraction or destination in advance, in case the trip becomes particularly strenuous and you need to rest.
Flying is rarely a problem.
However, stopovers that are too short for changing to the next plane can lead to complications for people with a serious heart defect.
In this respect, it is better to choose connecting flights that leave a few hours after arrival. This gives you enough time for passport and security checks. Those who are especially restricted in their everyday life due to their heart defect should seek assistance from airport staff when changing planes.
There are various aspects of travel that can be covered:
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) | e-card
International Health Insurance
Travel cancellation and return insurance
EU citizens travelling to an EU Member State should have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with them. This can be found on the back of the e-card. The EHIC ensures that you will receive medical care according to the standards of the respective country.
Only then will the costs of medical services be reimbursed locally. Without the card, visiting a doctor can quickly become expensive. However, the card does not replace insurance.
If you want to take out international health insurance for travel, you should find out which services are covered in detail. It is also advisable to take out return insurance (e.g. ÖAMTC Schutzbrief).
You should not hesitate to carefully check and read through the policy beforehand, and ask any questions you may have. Otherwise you may land up needing an additional cover. Your insurance advisor will be able to help you. Travelers without international health insurance must pay all costs themselves - and that can be expensive.
An insurance policy is usually only valid for the person who is ill, but not for travel companions affected by it.
For example, if you are travelling with a group and miss your flight because you have to go to hospital, you will be reimbursed, but your fellow travelers will not be reimbursed. You should therefore clarify with your insurance company in advance whether there are any exceptions to this rule.
If you have to go to hospital when travelling, you should - if possible - have your admission certified for insurance purposes immediately on the first day. You should also keep all foreign prescriptions.
If you have to cancel a trip unexpectedly, cancellation costs will be incurred. Such costs can be avoided with the help of a travel cancellation insurance. The amount of the insurance premium depends on the travel price. Insurance is also possible in the event of a delayed arrival or a delayed/early departure - again, the conditions vary greatly from one insurer to another.