One of our patients writes about travelling with an ICD.

Having been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and having an ICD implanted is not really good news. In the great scheme of things its probably means my days on this earth may be less than Joe average. Actually, maybe not. With all the medicine screening I get I’m beginning to think my prospects of a lengthy life are really good. After all, not many people get an ECG, echocardiogram and full medical screen annually. Plus the blood tests and blood pressure checks, not only for me but my children as well (some people would pay a fortune to have this sort of medical treatment!)

Also on the plus side, I feel grateful for everyday knowing what might have happened to me without my ICD, so my theory is ‘Just Do it’, if you can. You know what they say, the only things in life we regret are the things we don’t do, so this brings me onto travelling with an ICD.

Stating the obvious always travel with adequate medication and due to ash clouds and any other act of God, possibly triple the amount you though of initially. You will need your ICD card given to you by your cardiologists as security now insist on seeing it to ensure you really do have an ICD and can’t go through the scanner (this has been implemented in the last few years). Ladies, I suggest you always wear trousers as it’s a much more dignified way to be frisked. Don’t even attempt to explain you have an ICD, it causes too much confusion. Just tell security staff (especially foreign) you have a pacemaker. Believe me, it makes translation much simpler!

Whilst in the air drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol as you could become dehydrated. If you do decided to have an alcoholic drink, try to drink two glasses of water to every alcoholic drink you have.

The CMA and IDC support groups can recommend insurance groups. Not surprisingly I discovered the free holiday insurance which came linked with my bank account would not cover me for cardiomyopathy and an ICD. However, with a supplement of approximately £40 I could have annual world wide health insurance covering my pre existing conditions through the holiday insurance linked to my bank account. For me this account was a bargain.

As previously stated, carry information as to ICD type and settings in case this is needed.

Final piece of advise, pack medication and documentation (insurance details, ICD details, and ICD travel card) in your hand luggage. I believe approximately 10% of suitcases go missing, in fact I keep my ICD travel card in my passport.

Have a great time.

Next on the blog: Airport security and ICDs.

And don’t forget that if you live in Surrey you are invited to attend the ICDC Surrey Education Day on 11 May.

You can follow ICDC Surrey on Twitter or on our blog.



ICDC Surrey

ICDC SURREY is the support group for patients who have implantable cardioverter defibrillators, and their families. We are based at St Peters Hospital, Chertsey, but members are welcome from Royal Surrey County Hospital, Epsom Hospital, Frimley Park Hospital and East Surrey Hospital. We also aim to engage patients and families from other hospital trusts, raising awareness and sharing information through our blog.

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