Heart attack symptoms in travellers

Man on holiday clutching chest

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) has warned that travellers should not ignore heart attack symptoms while travelling and should keep emergency numbers to hand. This message was communicated at the recent ESC congress following the results of a study that found that long-term outcomes following a heart attack while travelling can be good if prompt treatment is received.

In the study, the demographic and clinical characteristics in residents versus people travelling were compared in 2,564 patients who had a heart attack and rapid treatment with a stent between 1999 and 2015 at Juntendo University Shizuoka Hospital, Japan. The patients were followed up for 16 years and death rates were compared between the two groups. The researchers found that heart attacks during a trip were associated with a 42-per-cent lower risk of long-term all-cause death than those that occurred in residents.

“Our study shows that long-term outcomes after a heart attack while travelling can be good if you get prompt treatment,” said study author Dr Ryota Nishio of the Department of Cardiology, Juntendo University Shizuoka Hospital, Japan. “It is important that, when you are over the immediate emergency phase and return home, you see your doctor to find out how you can reduce your risk of a second event by improving your lifestyle and potentially taking preventive medication.”

Dr Nishio also said that the researchers found that, overall, patients were more likely to die during follow-up if they were older, had prior heart attack, or had chronic kidney disease. “If you fall into any of these groups or have other risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking or obesity, it is particularly important to make sure you know the emergency number at home and at any travel destination,” he said.