Our March Travel Rx column focused on the types and symptoms of stroke. This month, learn about ways to reduce your risk for stroke and steps to take in case of stroke while traveling.
The complications of stroke differ depending on the part of the brain affected and how long the brain suffers from a lack of blood flow. A stroke can cause either permanent or temporary disabilities, such as paralysis or loss of muscle movement, difficulty talking or swallowing, memory loss, trouble with understanding, pain and social withdrawal.
Early treatment can minimize damage to the brain and potential complications, which is why time is the most critical factor in treating stroke. The good news is that treatments and surgical interventions are now available to stroke patients if they are candidates. Nonetheless, prevention remains most important, primarily through control of three major risk factors — hypertension, smoking and high cholesterol — as prescribed by the National Stroke Prevention Guidelines (see sidebar).
When traveling with others, review with them the symptoms of stroke and what to do if you have a stroke. Inform them that you want to be taken to the closest well-equipped hospital, one with 24/7 availability of computed axial tomography (CT or CAT) scanning, as well as radiologists or neurologists to read scan results immediately. Your companion may need to speak to the physicians if you are unable to do so, so be sure he or she has the proper authorization to do so.
Carry your medical history with you when traveling, along with a list of your medications, drug allergies, your physicians’ phone numbers and emergency contact numbers at home and where you are traveling. If you experience a stroke in your hotel room, dial the front desk or the hotel operator. Many hotels also have security personnel available 24/7 to assist their guests. In the United States, you can call 911 from any hotel phone by accessing an outside line or by contacting the hotel operator. If you cannot speak, leave the phone off the hook. Try to open your hotel door and get someone’s attention in the hall for help.
When traveling outside the United States, it is important to know the local medical emergency system before you are in an emergency situation. Ask your hotel manager about the hotel’s medical emergency procedure. Find out who to call for emergency care, or if there is a hotel or countrywide emergency phone number. Ask if your hotel has a physician on staff to see guests and facilitate their transport to the hospital, or if you have to rely on your companions or hotel manager or concierge to recommend and transport you to the best hospital in the area. Inquire about the availability of CT scanners and radiologists or neurologists in that country and at the closest well-equipped hospital. U.S. Embassies and Consulates (http://usembassy.state.gov) maintain lists of hospitals and physicians abroad.
Travelers may be concerned about how soon they can travel after having a stroke. This depends on each individual person and the stroke itself. The best advice is to check with your doctor to determine if you are medically fit to fly; also check with your airline and insurance company for restrictions that may apply. Doctors often recommend avoiding flying for three months after stroke due to an increased risk of deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism and to allow adequate time for recovery. However, sometimes it may be necessary to fly — for example, to return home if the stroke has occurred abroad.
In the United States, calling 911 is the fastest way to get immediate life-saving medical treatment. Note the time that the symptoms first started so that you can tell the medical personnel. Emergency Medical Services, ideally with advanced cardiac life support capabilities, can assess for a stroke, start initial treatment and rapidly transport you to the hospital, where you can be more thoroughly assessed and treated by the emergency department physician and stroke team.
Ischemic strokes (resulting from a clot in an artery to the brain) can be treated with a clot-busting medication called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) in the emergency department within three hours of the onset of symptoms, reducing the chances of long-term disability.
A study published in October 2008 revealed that the tPA administration window may be expanded to four and a half hours from onset of symptoms, but this new timeframe has not yet been approved by the FDA. For more information, visit http://www.stroke.org.
Reduce Your Risk
Follow the National Stroke Prevention Guidelines:
• Know your blood pressure. Ideal: 110–120/70–80 New guidelines: <135/• Know your cholesterol numbers
• Find out if you have atrial fibrillation
• Find out if you have circulation problems
• Follow a diet lower in sodium and fat
• Stop smoking
• Drink alcohol only in moderation
• Exercise daily
• Control diabetes with doctor’s recommendations
Icelandair recently announced its newest North American gateway: Detroit, Michigan. The seasonal flights begin May 18, 2023, taking off from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport to Reykjavik (KEF), Iceland. The four weekly, non-stop flights will run through Oct. 30, 2023. Flight 872 departs Detroit for Iceland Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, at 8:30 p.m., on a 160-seat Boeing 737MAX. The return, from Reykjavik to Detroit, departs 5 p.m. on the same days of the week, arriving at 6:25 p.m.
Considering an autumnal adventure or Thanksgiving trip this year? Well, with walkable cities, cozy pubs and lots of seasonal festivals, the island of Ireland is calling. And if you need more reasons to Press the Green Button and go, take a look and see what awaits you on the Emerald Isle …
If your personal travel nirvana involves fabulous scenery and a snappy, reviving hike in bracing winter air, Bannikin Travel & Tourism hopes to make your dreams come true with a selection of new winter walking itineraries in Scotland (other trip options are available in England and Ireland). Here’s what you can look forward to in 2023:
As of November 2022, Rohrkopfhutte (mountain hut) on Germany’s Tegelberg mountain reopened, and the dream view from the terrace, of the castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau and the stunning Schwangauer Alpsee, can be seen in the valley below.
There’s no better time to plan the vacation you’ve been missing. Step aboard with your better half, your friends or the whole family and reconnect, reunite and rejoice with 25 percent off cruise fares for all guests. We’ll also help everyone get there with 25 percent off airfare from 20 major gateways across the country or $100 savings per person on flights from all other gateways when you book your air travel using Flights by Celebrity.*
Palm Springs became a destination of legend when Hollywood’s biggest and brightest during cinema’s “Golden Age” turned the desert community into their glamourous backyard. While restaurants and hotels epitomizing definitive Palm Springs luxury open, adapt and change with the times, it says something that one of its hottest restaurants sets up an outpost back in Los Angeles. And that’s exactly what chef Michael Beckman and restaurateur Joe Mourani did on the southern tip of the always-evolving Fairfax District.
Experience the beauty of Alaska and save 60 percent off cruise fares on your second and fourth guests. Plus, drinks, WiFi and tips are all included.
Six Senses recently announced plans to open its first Australian property in Burnham Beeches, a heritage mansion built in 1933 and situated on the 22 hectares of fern glades and forested hills of the Dandenong Ranges. The property lies 24 miles from Melbourne and neighbors Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens, one of the country’s finest examples of domestic Art Deco.