CARDIOVASCULAR
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TRAVELING WITH YOUR PACEMAKER OR IMPLANTABLE CARDIOVERTER DEFIBRILLATOR (ICD)

Generally, travelling with your pacemaker or ICD is easy and safe. Planning in advance, and communicating with your doctor, your loved ones and travel companions, can allow you to enjoy your trip with confidence.

FIRST, CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR

Have a conversation with your doctor about your plans. He or she can:

  • Create a travel plan and emergency action plan for long-distance trips.
  • Talk with you about travel safety rules for equipment, including the LVAD Power Module Backup Battery or country-specific power cords, if applicable.
  • Help you find a physician to connect with at your destination, just in case you need care.
  • Help you think through beforehand how to manage any possible issues; this can include what to do if you: 
    • Receive a notifier alert from your pacemaker or ICD
    • Receive a shock from your ICD or cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator
  • Provide you with any other information that might be relevant to your particular situation.
  • Plan for the right level of exercise or activity while you are away.
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU

If you have an LVAD, be sure to bring everything you need for battery-powered and electrical-powered operation at your final destination.

  • Never leave or store batteries in extremely hot or cold places (such as the trunk of your automobile), or battery life will be shortened.
  • Never carry or store batteries in temperatures below -10° C (14° F) or above 40° C (104° F) or they may fail suddenly.
  • Never use batteries in temperatures below 0°C (32° F) or above 40° C (104° F) or they may fail suddenly.

In addition to following other recommendations from your doctor:

  • Pack any medications; bring about a week’s more than you expect to need for the trip. If traveling by plane, pack your medication in your carry-on, in case of lost luggage.
  • Bring a photocopy of the prescriptions your doctor wrote, or any insurance or pharmacy information related to your prescriptions, just in case you need to get prescriptions filled while away.
  • Make sure to carry your Implantable Device Patient Identification (ID) card  wherever you go. It indicates that you have a device, and provides important information about your device.
  • Ask your doctor for the last printout from your device programmer at your most recent evaluation. Make sure to ask for versions in French, German or Spanish if you are going to countries where these languages are spoken. Italian, Japanese and Chinese printouts may be available for certain devices.
  • If you are monitored remotely with the Abbott Merlin.net™ Patient Care Network and are scheduled for a follow-up during your trip, bring along your bedside transmitter.
SECURITY CHECKPOINTS

If you have an LVAD:

  • You cannot go through a metal detector/body scanner. These devices use types of energy that can interfere with the pump. You should request a hand search.

If you have a CRT-D, CRT-P, or PA sensor:

  • Move through metal detectors at a normal walking speed and do not pause for more than a few seconds.

If your device or PA sensor sets off the detector, tell security personnel about it and present your ID.

If security personnel choose to use a hand-held wand, ask them to move it over your device or PA sensor area quickly.

AIR TRAVEL

If you will be traveling by plane, you can rest easy knowing that air travel, including passing through airports, is safe. However:

  • Move through metal detectors at a normal walking speed and do not pause for more than a few seconds.
  • If your device sets off the detector, tell security personal about it and present your ID card.
  • If security personnel choose to use a handheld wand, ask them to move it over your device area quickly.

During your flight:

  • Drink plenty of fluids such as water and juice.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which are dehydrating.
  • Move around, and walk the aisle every hour or two when it is safe to do so.
  • While sitting down, doing simple ankle rotations and leg movements will keep the blood circulating in your body.
CAR AND RV TRAVEL

Car travel is a fun and flexible way to get away. Before you go:

  • Tell family or a close friend where you will be going and what your route will be in case issues come up on the road.

While you are away from home:

  • Keep your cell phone handy and charged if you have one, so you can be in touch any time you may need to be.

For LVAD users:

Automobile airbags deploy with great force. If an airbag hits your abdomen or chest, the force could cause serious damage or bleeding. For this reason, avoid riding in the front seat of cars with airbags (also known as supplemental restraint systems, or "SRS" for short).

Your doctor decides if you can drive an automobile while implanted with the pump. Some states have laws against letting patients drive if they have a history of fainting, dizziness or cardiac arrest. Usually, you need to wait at least 6-8 weeks after surgery before being considered for driving privileges. 

CRUISE SHIPS

A great option for travel, cruise ships often have a doctor and medical services on board. Before booking your trip:

  • Check with the cruise company or your travel agent to see if they provide medical resources, and if they offer group cruises for people with implanted devices.

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