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Don't Let Your Vacation Turn Into a Heart Attack Nightmare!

What is a holiday heart attack?

Are You Prone to Have a Heart Attack During a Vacation?

Heart attacks are really good at what they do! They aren't only the #1 killer in everyday life but also when people are on vacation.
While you are happily planning all those fun adventures, one very important item could be escaping your focus. Your blood pressure, as boring a subject as it is, will be tagging along with you, so keep it in mind as you prepare for and enjoy your holiday.

How could that be when having a holiday from work and stress is supposed to be good for you?! That's the whole point of going on vacation -so you can relax and enjoy new places and experiences, right?

(Be sure to read to the end to see a video of the U.S. Coast Guard rescuing a possible heart attack victim from his vacation on a Carnival cruise ship while on his honeymoon.

 Strategic Vacation Planning Failure!

Don't let your vacation turn into a heart attack nightmare Well, look at the following scenario and see if you see yourself in it at all:
You know what clothes you're taking, so you decide to wait until the day before your trip to pack. 
You think, "I'll only need a few clothes, a couple pairs of shoes, a dress or two, jeans, t-shirts won't be hard to pack, and my cosmetics which I can't pack till the last minute anyway.
So I'll be ok waiting till the day before I leave."

The day before your vacation arrives and reality hits you when you discover you need another dress, or you could use a new pair of shoes to spice up that older dress; let's face it - you need to run to the mall!

When you get there, you see other things you could use, the clerk is slower than molasses, and you take longer than you thought you would.
Oh, yea – you forgot to put the newspaper on hold, and don't forget to put the notice into the post office to hold the mail!

 Then the kids need you to do something or someone gets sick.

 While you're taking care of all this, the afternoon turns into the evening. You think ahead to how you want to have that hotel feeling in your home when you get back, so you start:

  •  Cleaning the bathrooms
  •  Mopping floors
  •  Making sure dishes are put away
  •  Doing two last loads of laundry: one for the last minute clothes you were wearing so you waited to wash them, and the other for sheets that you want to have clean when you come home.

You know – the work of a week squeezed into a night when you're supposed to be getting the packing done!

By the time you get done, you barely have time to get any sleep before you have to get yourself and everyone else up to get to the airport or to start loading up the car.

I've got a confession here: that has been my mode of operation many, many times.

I obviously survived, but there were many trips to the airport where my sleep was during the SuperShuttle ride to the airport! Not good, to say the least!

Not to scare you or anything, but if this sounds familiar, you have at least two things going against you, especially if you already know you have high blood pressure:
  • The stress of it all
  • Not enough sleep 
Both of those can push you towards a heart event (and not a romantic one at that) during your vacation.

Add to that when you're on vacation, your food is probably going to include fattier foods with more sodium from the restaurants. What does that add up to?

Don't let your vacation turn into a heart attack nightmare! 
It means you've got more cortisol flowing thru your body, which equates to thicker, stickier blood flowing thru your body. 

With stickier blood and possibly more plaque building up from fattier foods, a piece of that plaque could break off and cause a heart attack or stroke while your blood is speeding up during what your body considers a stressful time.

If you're not careful, your adventures during your time off could include a trip to the hospital or worse.

See below the video for tips to keep stress and blood pressure where you want it.

With all of that in mind, here are a few tips that will help keep your high blood pressure, as well as heart attacks at bay during your vacation:

  • Prepare for your vacation well in advance, including deciding among yourselves what adventures you'll partake in (hence avoiding the stress of family arguments about what you'll do (snorkeling vs parasailing, for example.)
  •  Start packing a few days in advance & have all the laundry done ahead of time.
  • Have realistic expectations about how to leave your home; delegate responsibilities, but if it's the evening of the night before, let it go. 
  • Consider the possibility of an extra day before or after your holiday to recover, get some travel laundry done, etc.
  • Stay aware of the sodium and extra fats that are in the constant array of restaurant foods. Ask for a doggy bag at the beginning of the meal so you can spread the sodium goodness over time instead of bombarding your body with it all at once.
  • If you're trying something new that gives you a little anxiety, take a few deep breaths to calm down. 
  • Try turning your phone and computer off to the everyday world so you can totally relax and really get away. If you flirt with work, you're not taking advantage of the time to totally relax! Try it, you might like it.

According to Orbitz.com's Summer Travel Forecast for published May 1, 2013, 75% of Americans will be taking a vacation during June, July, and August. How you react to all those people and the funky things they do or don't do can make or break you.

Holiday Heart Syndrome

Did you know there is actually something called Holiday Heart Syndrome

While it would be cool if that was something positive to add to your vacation, like a romantic episode for your memory book, it's really not something you want to go through.

It happens when you have been overindulging in all those yummy foods that just may have....ok, they probably DO have too much salt in them. 

Add to that...when you're on vacation and don't have to worry about how sober you have to be in a little while, you also just may indulge in a little too much alcohol...right??? It's ok...I get it!

But while you're totally enjoying yourself, your body might be having a bit of a hard time...which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. 

Definitely something to think about! 

Info on Flying and High Blood Pressure

Although airplane cabins are pressurized, the plane may not be providing quite the same pressure your body is used to.

It's kind of like going to Denver, the Mile High city, and trying to hike in the mountains there when you're from Phoenix, which is at 1,100 feet! 

When I went to visit my brother in Denver, we did that, and I felt I couldn't get enough oxygen! Just being in Denver gave me a splitting headache from having less oxygen!

While you probably won't have any problems, it's always good to be prepared. 

One thing you may want to do while in the air is to do leg stretches or take a walk up the aisle every once in a while to keep blood clots from forming in your legs.

According to Dr. Samuel Goldhaber, director of the Venous Thromboembolism Research Group at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the risk of a pulmonary embolism from a blood clot breaking away and traveling to the lungs is "greater with those who have cardiovascular disease, lung disease, are taking birth control or hormone replacement therapy, are pregnant, or have had surgery in the past several months."

Along with doing some leg stretches, another way to avoid issues is to make sure to drink enough water.

If you are taking blood pressure medication or you know your blood pressure numbers are under control, there should be no problem.

Otherwise, you need to be extra careful, and possibly check with your doctor prior to traveling.

Just make up your mind to have fun and make some awesome memories with you and your family - better than what the vacationers in this video had!

The video shows an actual rescue of a man on his honeymoon on a Carnival cruise ship who was having a heart attack. 

Not exactly the plan he had for his honeymoon! The Coast Guard is a very welcome sight for people at sea... especially by this man! 

Images courtesy of Chrisroll at FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Veneto Hotel Casino at Wikimedia Commons, and my personal photo taken on harbor tour in Seattle, WA.