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Heart Attack Symptoms Should Not Be Ignored While Traveling

Heart Attack Symptoms Should Not Be Ignored While Traveling

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  • Long-term prognosis in patients who suffer a heart attack (myocardial infarction) while traveling can be good if immediate medical care is initiated
  • Heart attacks are one of the most common reasons for death while traveling and yet statistics and figures about long-term outcomes in these patients remain unclear
  • Having a heart attack during travel can be frightening. It is thus advisable to have emergency numbers that can be called for help as well as contact details of local medical centers and hospitals before traveling

Patients suffering a heart attack while traveling can have good long-term prognosis if immediate medical attention is provided, according to a recent observational study and urges people traveling to always have emergency contact numbers ready in hand.

The findings of the study were presented at the Acute Cardiovascular Care 2019 European Society of Cardiology (ESC) congress.


Heart Attack Symptoms Should Not Be Ignored While Traveling

According to study author Dr Ryota Nishio, of the Department of Cardiology, Juntendo University Shizuoka Hospital, Izunokuni, Japan, "If you are traveling and experience heart attack symptoms such as pain in the chest, throat, neck, back, stomach or shoulders that lasts for more than 15minutes, call an ambulance without delay."

Study Design and Location

The current observational study in Juntendo University Shizuoka Hospital, Japan included 2,564 patients who had a heart attack but were immediately treated with cardiac stent insertion (percutaneous coronary intervention, PCI) during the period from 1999 and 2015. The hospital is situated on the Izu peninsula, which is a popular tourist spot and the hospital is a major regional center for PCI.
  • The study team hoped to compare the outcome of heart attacks in persons traveling to the peninsula and among the local residents.
  • They collected demographic details such as age, sex and clinical characteristics of the two groups of patients.
  • The patients were followed up for 16 years and mortality rates between the groups were compared.
  • Mortality data were obtained from medical records, postal questionnaires and telephone contact

Mortality Rates Due to Heart Attack in Travelers Vs Local Residents

  • A total of 192 persons (7.5%) were traveling during the onset of heart attack symptoms
  • Most of those traveling tended to be in the younger age group and had a serious type of heart attack called STEMI (ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction)
  • Patients were followed up on an average for 5.3 years
  • Death rate due to non-cardiac causes was significantly more in the local residents (25.4%) compared to the traveling population (16.7%) but death due to cardiac causes was similar in both groups
  • Interestingly death due to any cause in persons who suffered a heart attack while traveling was 42 percent lower when compared to the local population after adjusting for other influencing factors such as age, sex, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia and chronic kidney disease
  • Overall death rate was higher in patients who were older, had chronic kidney disease or had a prior heart attack
The findings of the study suggest that long-term outcomes in traveling patients who suffered heart attacks and had prompt treatment are very favorable.

"Our study shows that long-term outcomes after a heart attack while traveling can be good if you get prompt treatment," said Dr. Nishio. "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."

Possible Reasons For Higher Death Rates in Local Residents

  • Traveling population are from urban areas and are probably more health conscious and have access to better healthcare facilities
  • Rural population of Izu peninsula possibly has lesser access to healthcare
  • Importantly the experience of a heart attack while traveling can be frightening and make people value their health more and prompt them to make healthier diet and lifestyle choices


Long-term outcome in patients who have a heart attack while traveling can be good if prompt treatment is given. All travelers and persons who are at high risk of heart attack (diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and dyslipidemia) should know emergency numbers to contact in case of heart attack symptoms. 

References :
  1. Don't Ignore Heart Attack Symptoms, Especially While Travelling - (https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/Don-t-ignore-heart-attack-symptoms-while-travelling)

Source: Medindia

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