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Can You Fly With High Blood Pressure? What You Need To Know

blood pressure measurement

Traveling is a fantastic way to escape the daily routine, experience new cultures, and create unforgettable memories. However, traveling can be challenging if you have certain health conditions, such as:

However, living with health conditions shouldn’t stop you from exploring the world. With adequate preparation and the right precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip.

In today’s post, we’ll share everything you need to know about traveling with high blood pressure, including:

  • What hypertension is
  • Risks of traveling with high blood pressure
  • What to consider when planning your trip
  • Some tips on high blood pressure and flying

Without further ado, let’s begin.

What is Hypertension? (aka High Blood Pressure)

For most people, hypertension is defined as a blood pressure reading over 140/90 mm Hg. According to WHO, approximately 1.28 billion adults aged 30 to 79 suffer from hypertension worldwide, and 46% are unaware of it. Besides, only 1 in 5 people (21%) has it under control.

High blood pressure is a leading cause of death or a contributing factor. Sadly, hypertension doesn’t show evident symptoms.

Severe high blood pressure cases (usually 180/120 or higher) may experience the following symptoms:

  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Anxiety

All in all, high blood pressure is a common condition but it can be serious if it’s not treated. Typically, you can reduce your blood pressure by adopting a healthier lifestyle with practices like:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Keeping a healthy diet
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Monitoring blood pressure at home or your local pharmacy
  • Reducing stress
  • Minimizing salt consumption

Nonetheless, some people may need to take medications.

High Blood Pressure and Flying: What Are The Risks?

Overall, high blood pressure patients who take medication don’t have an increased risk of health problems at higher altitudes. Nevertheless, poorly controlled or severe hypertension does increase this risk.

The effects of occasional flying on heart health are relatively unstudied. Yet, according to a recent study, even men in good health have an increased blood pressure of 6% during commercial flights.

According to the CDC, about 1 in 600 flights experience a medical emergency, such as:

  • Heart problems
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures

And blood pressure may be a contributing factor to some of these emergencies.

What to Consider When Planning Your Trip

Traveling to high altitudes (5,000 to 11,500 feet) can increase blood pressure. Why? At these heights, your blood works harder to deliver oxygen, causing blood pressure to rise.

Therefore, when planning your trip, you may want to avoid destinations like:

  • Colombia
  • China
  • Mexico
  • Peru

However, if you already booked your trip, don’t panic: managing your blood pressure at high altitudes is possible. Experts recommend:

  • Light physical activity
  • Avoid climbing more than 300 meters per day

Be extra mindful of these tips when staying in mountainous areas, like the Alps or the Andes.

Some Tips

Overall, traveling at high altitudes shouldn’t be a problem as long as your blood pressure is controlled and you take some precautions. Here are some tips you may want to consider:

  • Consult your doctor 8 weeks before your trip to discuss your travel plans.
  • Get your medication ready, and make sure to bring enough to cover your whole trip. Besides, bringing a bit extra may be a good idea in case your return flight gets rescheduled.
  • Keep your alcohol and caffeine consumption to a minimum during your flight to avoid dehydration.
  • Be careful with airline food, it might have high sodium levels, which can raise your blood pressure.
  • Taking Dramamine to avoid motion sickness doesn’t interfere with blood pressure medications.
  • Avoid using sedative and hypnotic medications before and during flight.
  • Promote circulation by moving around during your flight with walks every two hours and by moving in your seat.

Key Takeaways

Ultimately, traveling with high blood pressure doesn’t have to limit your travel plans. With proper planning, taking necessary precautions, and consulting your doctor, you can enjoy your trip confidently and safely.

Remember to:

  • Monitor your blood pressure
  • Make wise choices regarding food and drink
  • Stay active during your journey

Want to get tested for COVID before your next trip? No matter where you are, or what type of test you need, find testing locations near you with our international directory.

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