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:
- Help you find a physician to connect with at your destination, just in case you need care; this is especially important if you will be away for a month or more
- Help you think through beforehand how to manage any possible issues beforehand; 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
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 St. Jude Medical™ Merlin.net™ Patient Care Network and are scheduled for a follow-up during your trip, bring along your bedside transmitter.
If you will be traveling by plane, you can rest easy knowing that air travel, including passing through airports, is safe. Typically, security systems will not affect your device. 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.
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.