Travel with Anticoagulation
The Medical Specialist for Transfusion Medicine and Internal Medicine has dedicated experience in the treatment of patients with anticoagulants. He is the Medical Director of the LaboMed Coagulation Center in Berlin and the author of numerous scientific publications on this topic.
Travel and anticoagulation – a healthy match?
Absolutely. But before you embark upon a trip, there are a few things that you should discuss with your doctor. For instance: are there concerns regarding the climate? If necessary, will I be able to get proper medical treatment in an emergency? Is travel prophylaxis necessary? Keep in mind that some vaccinations and preventive medications, such as anti-malaria medicines, can influence blood clotting.
What should I always take with me?
Be sure to take your anticoagulants, and all other medications, with you in sufficient amounts. Add to that the medical alert tag or ID and the most recent letter from your doctor. An absolute must for patients who self-monitor their coagulation rates is the monitoring device, along with anynecessary accessories. And none of this should be packed in your luggage – always make sure that you have it close at hand in your on-board case. That way you’ll have everything you need, even if you have travel delays or lost luggage.
Is there a direct connection between traveling and blood coagulation?
The answer here is maybe. Take for example food and climate: they certainly have an impact. Then again, many people pursue different interests while on vacation – some are active and engage in more sport activities, while others take it easy in every available beach chair or hammock. If more or less activity is a change from your normal lifestyle, travel may have an effect on blood coagulation – but not necessarily. Please be sure to contact your doctor with any questions as you plan upcoming trips.
Should patients check their coagulation rate more frequently when traveling?
One of the benefits of self-monitoring is the ability to test from anywhere, anytime, including while traveling. Studies have shown that patients that regularly self-test have better control of their treatment,1-4 a better quality of life,2 and are less likely to suffer a stroke5-7 than if they visited the clinic for testing. For this reason, please continue to self-test your coagulation rate based on your prescribed schedule while traveling. For coagulation self-testers, a simple fingerstick and 60-second test gives you the independence to enjoy your holiday and normal daily activities, while providing the same reassurance of knowing your INR value that you would get in the anticoagulation clinic.8 . Patients also learn how their bodies react to the changes that a trip confronts them with – and therefore learn how to independently adjust their medication dosage. Of course this requires a bit of practice, which self-monitoring patients have usually already acquired at home. But in the case of extreme fluctuations in INR value, please always consult with a doctor at your travel destination.
Do you have any other travel-related advice that you would like to share?
By all means enjoy your trip! A change of scenery is extremely important to be able to truly relax. This includes travelers who take anticoagulants. They may have to put a little extra effort into preparing their trip, but it’s their ticket to an enjoyable and relaxing vacation.
1. Gardiner et al (2009). J Clin Pathol62:168–171
2. Matchar et al (2010). N Engl J Med363:1608–1620
3. NICE diagnostics guidance [DG14] (2014). Available at www.nice.org.uk/guidance/DG14 Last accessed August 2016
4. Ryan et al (2009). J Thromb Haemost7:1284–1290
5. Heneghan et al (2006). Lancet 367:404–411
6. Heneghan et al (2012). Lancet 379:322–334
7. Wigle et al (2013). Am Fam Physician87:556–566
8. Burgwinkle et al (2008). Managed Care17:1–8