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Mended Little HeartGuide

Diagnosis 3 In The Frequently Asked Questions Many families have questions about how various activities will affect children with CHD. The biggest worries are about exercise, but other activities such as air travel and even rollercoaster rides raise concern. The truth is, there are no clear answers to some of these questions, but experts agree on some things, and those are the answers we are presenting here. These recommendations do not come with any guarantees, and following these guidelines does not eliminate the possibility that something could go wrong. These are, however, the best answers we have to some common questions. Is it safe for children with CHD to travel by plane? Many parents worry that commercial air travel might be dangerous for children with CHD. There are a few important things to know: Commercial airplanes are usually pressurized to the equivalent of an altitude of 5,000 feet (about the same as Denver, Colorado) to 8,000 feet (a little higher than Mexico City). Private aircraft may not be pressurized to the same degree. Higher altitudes can make it just a little harder to get blood to move through the lungs, but that doesn’t mean your child can’t travel by plane. Although they tend to have lower oxygen saturations at higher altitudes, many children with CHD do surprisingly well with commercial air travel. Some people with CHD, particularly those with cyanotic conditions (where the blood oxygen is lower than normal) or single ventricle heart disease, may be affected, but most who are not cyanotic and do not have lung disease will not experience problems during commercial air travel. Always ask your child’s doctor, but most children with CHD can travel safely by commercial airline. What if my child needs oxygen on a flight? Unless they are on home oxygen, very few, if any, patients with heart problems will need in-flight oxygen. If your child is on home oxygen, check with your airline to learn about their policy on in-flight supplemental oxygen. Most airlines need advance notice about a patient’s need for in-flight oxygen. Don’t assume that you will be able to bring your home oxygen tanks on the flight! Is there anything else I should watch out for while flying with a child with CHD? There are a few issues that might come up during air travel that are frequently overlooked but probably more important than the effects of altitude: • It is easier to get dehydrated at higher altitudes, so make sure you and your child are getting enough to drink. • Sitting for long periods of time can increase the chance of a venous blood clot, so make sure that you get up and move around now and then. • Make sure you have access to your child’s medications. Don’t put them in your checked baggage. You might need access to them during a long flight or while at the airport, and if your luggage is lost, getting refills will certainly be a hassle. • If your child has liquid medications, learn about the airline’s policies and procedures for those before arriving at the airport. 1 General Information 2 Prenatal Hospital 4 Living With CHD 5 Forms 81


Mended Little HeartGuide
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