Travel tips for children with heart complaints

Frankfurt, Germany  - Parents considering going on holiday with a child who has a heart condition should prepare the journey carefully, according to advice from a German cardiologist.

Professor Michael Hofbeck from the German Cardiology Institute advises against travelling far from the cardiology clinic where the child is receiving treatment, if the child has just been operated on, or the cardiovascular system has not yet stabilised.

Professor Hofbeck was speaking on Germany's "Tag des herzkranken Kindes", an information day that publicises the plight of children with heart disease.

The clinic's telephone number is one of the items parents should bring with them along with sufficient supplies of medicine, up-to- date medical reports and drug passes.

With the right preparation a child who has just undergone a successful heart operation can travel just like ordinary kids do.

However, two factors do play an important role: climate and hygiene.

"Hot temperatures and high humidity levels can be stressful for a child with a heart complaint," says Hofbeck.

That's why Hofbeck recommends visiting regions with mild weather conditions.

Parents should also pay attention to their child's diet when visiting countries where there is a higher chance of contracting a gastrointestinal infection.

Not using tap water to drink or brush teeth can help avoid stomach upsets. Ice cream, raw vegetables and fruit that has not been freshly peeled should not be touched either.

Hofbeck says another important precaution is having the right vaccination, if one is required for the destination country.

Most children with heart problems can deal with air travel but parents should talk to the child's cardiologist for advice before boarding the plane.

Travelling by train is a good alternative as most carriages have air conditioning and the child can move about freely.

Travelling in cars without air conditioning should be avoided during the hot summer months. (dpa)