Heart conditions and travel insurance

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Man having his blood pressure taken

If you’re one of the seven million people in the UK living with a heart condition, it’s important to get the right travel insurance for you.

Here we discuss how to get insurance that covers you and your condition and how to stay safe while travelling.

Is it safe to travel with a heart condition?

You should speak to your doctor to find out if it is safe for you to travel.

For many, going abroad with a heart condition is still safe. Even if you have a pacemaker, cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) device or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted, you should be able to travel.

If you’ve recently had a heart attack or a major operation like heart surgery, you may need a letter from your doctor to prove you are fit to fly or travel.

Can I get travel insurance with a heart condition?

If you’re looking for travel insurance for heart conditions, each insurance provider will have their own rules around what they cover.

If you have pre-existing heart issues, you need to declare this to your insurer. Check whether the policy covers your specific condition and what it will protect you for, including any care you may need while away.

You can use MoneyHelper’s medical directory to find suitable insurance to cover your condition or by you can call 0800 138 7777 (open Monday to Friday 8:00-18:00 excl. bank holidays).

Find out more about travel insurance for medical conditions.

What heart conditions can travel insurance cover?

Insurers that provide cover for pre-existing conditions typically cover:

  • angina
  • arrhythmia
  • atrial fibrillation
  • high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • heart attack/myocardial infarction
  • cardiomyopathy
  • blocked or narrowed arteries
  • valve disease
  • aortic aneurysm
  • heart failure
  • aortic stenosis

Check your policy book carefully to make sure your condition is covered; if you’re unsure, call your insurer.

What information do I need to tell my insurer? 

You usually need to tell your insurer about any medical condition you’ve had within the last two years. But with a heart condition, you must tell them if you’ve ever had one.

You’ll need to let us know about:

  • any problems with your heart
  • recent surgeries or procedures you’ve had
  • any emergency hospital visits
  • the medications you take for your condition

You should always answer these questions truthfully. If you don’t let us know about a medical issue that you later need to claim for, your insurance will be invalidated

This means you won’t be covered for the cost of any treatments you need or if you need to cancel a trip as a result of your heart condition.

Remember to inform your insurer about any health changes between buying your policy and going on holiday.

Is travel insurance with heart conditions more expensive?

You might have to pay more for your travel insurance if you have a heart condition.

It’ll depend on the severity of your condition and any other health problems you might have, but the price of your premium will always depend on:

  • where you’re going
  • how long you’re going for
  • what activities you’ve planned

Travelling with a pre-existing heart condition

When travelling with a heart condition, you should bring:

1. A valid Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), so you can access lower-cost medical care if you’re travelling to Europe. Read our guide on using the GHIC in Europe.

2. Enough medication to last your trip and a few more days’ supply to be safe. Read our guide on travelling with medicine.

3. A Device Identification Card, if you have a heart device fitted (such as a pacemaker), which doctors can refer to if you do need treatment.

4. Recent medical letters, records of treatment you’ve had, and a copy of your electrocardiogram (ECG), for the same reason as above.

Flying with a heart condition

You can also take a few measures while travelling to your destination to keep your heart healthy.

If you have a heart device, let the security staff at the airport know. Your device shouldn’t be affected if you walk through the security scanners at a reasonable pace, but the staff will need to be careful when using a handheld metal detector.

They should hold it at least 15cm away from your device and avoid repeatedly sweeping over or lingering over it for a while.

You also might be at higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) on flights, so move around regularly and wear compression socks to help prevent a blood clot.

Speak to your doctor before flying to get specialised advice.

What to avoid on holiday with a heart condition

Specific temperatures and activities on holiday could worsen your heart disease symptoms. You should avoid:

  • Very hot or cold locations. Your heart will have to work harder, which can cause medical issues. Try to visit places with a mild climate and avoid using spa facilities like hot tubs, saunas or steam rooms.
  • Travel to high altitudes. High altitudes can affect your heart, lungs and blood flow as the air is thinner, and it’s harder to take in the oxygen your body needs. Check with your doctor before travelling to anywhere 2,000 metres above sea level.
  • Adventurous sports. Things like diving, skiing or other adventurous activities can strain your body and heart. You’ll need the go-ahead from your doctor to take part, but you should speak to your insurer too, as we might not cover you if you’re going to take part in high-risk activities. 

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