Firstly, what exactly is atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation is a common disorder of the heart’s rhythm, characterised by a rapid and irregular heartbeat. In sufferers of atrial fibrillation the electrical signals that control heartbeat are abnormal. The disturbance in electrical signals can cause the upper chambers of the heart, known as the atria to beat so fast that the lower chambers (the ventricles) cannot keep up and the heart cannot beat in a co-ordinated way. Loss of co-ordination results in an erratic irregular and rapid heart rate which can range from between 100-180 beats per minute (normal its 60-100 beats per minute).
Atrial fibrillation (AF) can be classed into three types – paroxysmal, persistent and permanent. Paroxysmal AF occurs in recurrent bouts that usually resolve without intervention within 48 hours. Persistent AF occurs when heart rhythm disturbance comes on suddenly and lasts for days or weeks without treatment before it resolves and finally permanent or chronic AF occurs when a normal heart rate cannot be achieved – treatment is aimed at controlling heart rate.
What causes atrial fibrillation?
Up to one third of people suffering from atrial fibrillation have no obvious underlying cause (condition known as lone atrial fibrillation). It should be noted that AF sufferers are at a higher risk of stroke or heart failure.
However there are a few known risk factors:
- Age – we are at risk of developing AF as we get older. 10% of those aged 75 and over have AF.
- Heart disease – people who have heart disease or heart valve problems are more likely to be affected.
- Other health conditions including chronic lung disease, overactive thyroid (Graves), sleep apnoea and high blood pressure can increase your risk of suffering with AF.
Atrial fibrillation and travel insurance
Having atrial fibrillation should not stop Australians from having a great holiday, particularly as insure4less specialises in providing affordable travel insurance for travellers with pre-existing medical conditions.
For your own peace of mind, you can relax in the knowledge that you have the protection of one of the world’s largest insurers and medical emergency teams to support you whilst overseas if you suddenly suffer from an illness related to atrial fibrillation. These include heart failure and strokes. We ask you to declare your atrial fibrillation when completing your online travel insurance (normally there is no extra to pay) and then when you receive your policy via email it will confirm in writing exactly what your cover is. You can then simply travel and relax.
Here are just a few tips for travelling with atrial fibrillation…
- Ensure you carry all prescription medication for your condition in your carry on luggage.
- If flying, advise your doctor beforehand as they may prescribe a blood thinner to reduce your risk of DVT, blood clots and stroke.
- Drink plenty of water and move about regularly. Once at your destination make sure you eat a healthy high fibre diet and get regular exercise.
- Advise any tour operators of your condition and what to do in an emergency.
Get a quote now!
Using the quote form on the top right hand side of the page.