Living with Anticoagulation - Travel
It is important to maintain your INR level within your therapeutic range, even while travelling or on holiday. If you don’t, you can put yourself at increased risk of bleeding or clotting events such as hemorrhage or stroke.
In order to better plan your trip, you should discuss with your doctor how best to manage your anticoagulation during your time away from home. For example, you may wish to have your INR levels measured before and after you travel, and depending on the duration of your trip, perhaps even while you are away from home.
Keeping your diet and lifestyle consistent while travelling can be quite challenging. People on oral anticoagulants need to take care to keep their consumption of foods with vitamin K as close to what they are used to as possible; the same goes for alcohol. A change in climate and temperature can also be a strain on your blood circulation, and may impact your coagulation.
Option 1: Going on holiday WITHOUT monitoring anticoagulation
For many patients going on vacation, their doctor will test them a few days before they leave. Their warfarin dosage is defined and away they go on their long-awaited vacation.
A few weeks later they return for another INR test. If they find out their reading is out of range, this can start a cycle of dose adjustment and retesting requiring more time away from work.
Option 2: Going on holiday and arranging anticoagulation testing there
Arranging for a clinic to test your INR while away allows you to respond right away to any changes in your coagulation levels, but there is normally a fee for this when abroad. The downside is that you have to take time away from your holiday to sit in a clinic or lab while your family or friends are out having a great time. Also, with different testing standards, testing consistency may not be the greatest.
Option 3: Going on holiday while monitoring anticoagulation yourself
Taking your CoaguChek XS allows you to respond right away to any changes. If there are any fluctuations of your INR value, you can see the change immediately on your meter. You can then either report the result to your doctor, or if trained to do so, change the dosage yourself if appropriate. The test takes a few minutes, so you’re back on the beach or slopes enjoying your time with family right away. Finally, testing consistency is maintained because this is the same CoaguChek XS that you use at home.
Air travel: Be sure to take your CoaguChek® XS on board with you. The CoaguChek® XS meter can be x-rayed at the airport without damaging it. In addition, taking your CoaguChek® XS meter and strips in your carry-on will reduce your stress should your checked baggage be lost.
Once you arrive at your destination, you can store the strips in their vial at room temperature (the CoaguChek® meter can be stored between 2- 30°C). Avoid placing the meter in direct sunlight next to a window or exposing it to humidity greater than 85%.