According to the American Heart Association, patients can fly with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) as long as their symptoms are managed. However, this may not be the case for everyone, so always check with your doctor.
While air travel is relatively safe for PAD patients, it doesn’t come without risk. Flights over four hours require passengers to remain still for long periods of time which can cause blood flow to decrease and increase the chance of a blood clot. This is especially concerning for people with PAD as their arteries are already narrowed and blood flow is more difficult.
High altitude is also a concern as it affects PAD. Although cabins are pressurized, air may be thin at times and this puts more strain on the heart to pump blood throughout the body.
As a person with PAD, it’s best to be prepared and know the facts. Here are 6 things you can do to make flying safer and more comfortable:
#1: Keep medications readily available
Put your medications in your carry-on instead of your checked luggage. Before leaving the house, make sure to take pictures of your prescriptions and their dosages just in case you lose them.
#2: Stay hydrated
As soon as you get through security, purchase a large bottle of water and drink it. Fill it up before boarding the plane and continue to drink it on the flight. Studies have shown that proper hydration can reduce claudification. To prevent dehydration, avoid alcohol before and during the flight.
#3: Wear compression socks
Compression socks help improve blood flow throughout the legs. Talk with your doctor to determine if you need them and what kind.
#4: Move around at least every 2 hours
Unfortunately, space is quite limited on a flight, but it’s still important to stretch your legs. Get up and use the bathroom. Take a walk up and down the aisle. Keep leg room clear so you can move around more. You can also do this exercise several times in your seat which requires pulling your knees up to your chest and holding them there for 15 seconds.
#5: Know the symptoms of a blood clot
Get medical help right away if you suspect a blood clot. Some of these symptoms include:
#6: Avoid excessive salt
Longer flights normally provide meals. This food may have more sodium than you’re normally used to. Be sure to pack healthy, low sodium options in your carry-on. The buildup of excessive sodium can exacerbate PAD symptoms.
Before traveling, please consult with a physician. Vascular Associates of South Alabama is the leading provider of vascular care in South Alabama. We welcome the opportunity to treat you.
FAX: (251) 410-8273