Women often bear the brunt of any planning, whether it’s for an outing to the mall or a major special event. Dr. Nieca Goldberg, cardiologist and a nationally recognized pioneer in women’s heart health, finds that this is especially true when vacation time rolls around, and that women’s health may suffer. I spoke to her over the phone and I wanted to share her advice with you since I’ve found that as we age, we don’t bounce back as quickly from illnesses so taking precautions can be a life saver.
“When planning a vacation, women often ignore their health because they become so focused on the trip,” Dr. Goldberg told me during a phone interview, adding that symptoms can go on for weeks. She advises that if you are not feeling well, call and make an appointment with your doctor before you leave on your trip.
Dr. Goldberg also advises making preparations to maintain your health while on vacation. Be sure to take the phone numbers of your doctor and pharmacy as well as a list of your medications with you. If you’re flying, be sure to carry your prescriptions with you instead of putting them in your checked luggage. Pack a vacation kit that includes ibuprofen, band aids, antibiotics, sunscreen, bug repellent, calamine lotion, Imodium, acetaminophen, aspirin, and ice packs. Dr. Goldberg also suggests taking a copy of your electrocardiogram if you have heart issues.
The cardiologist recommends not ignoring symptoms, such as chest pain, while on vacation. You go straight to the hospital if you experience any sudden symptoms (or new symptoms for illnesses you currently have). These symptoms include sudden difficulty breathing, chest tightness or pain, unexplained bleeding, fainting, sudden difficulty climbing stairs or standing unaided, sudden dizziness, disorientation, slurring of words, severe headache, stroke-like symptoms that seem to pass, a second degree burn, or an insect bite that blows up in size or causes dizziness or shortage of breath.
Dr. Goldberg also recommends being aware of the climate and elevation of your vacation spot, especially if it differs tremendously from where you live. “When it’s very hot and humid outside, that’s not time to start an exercise program outside,” Dr. Goldberg said. And if you live at sea level but take your vacation in the mountains, be sure to consider the change in altitude, which puts more stress on the body and can have an impact on those with heart disease, lung disease, or high blood pressure. “Even if you’re healthy, you need to take the altitude into account,” she said. “The higher that you go, you’ll find you’re not going to be able to do as much as you can at sea level.” Dr. Goldberg recommends taking time to get acclimated, noting that it will take a few days to get used to the elevation. During that time period, remain well-hydrated and don’t do vigorous exercise.
Dr. Goldberg also encouraged women to take time during the vacation to focus on their own health. “Women in general have to learn to take care of themselves,” she said. “During vacation, they have time to take care of themselves, but they don’t think about how to incorporate that learning into their daily life. I hope people develop healthy habits on vacation and then keep them going when you get back home.”
Published On: September 05, 2010