Can I fly with high blood pressure?
If you’ve been diagnosed with higher blood pressure than usual, you may be wondering this exact question. We’ve put together a guide that has all the information you need to know before you fly.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is also often referred to as hypertension by medical professionals. It is a physical phenomenon where the pressure in your blood vessels is unusually high, which puts you at severe risk of certain health conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease or a stroke.
Over ⅓ of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, and it is often only diagnosed with a test. Flying can present more problems for people with higher blood pressure than those who do not have it, so it is important to understand the risks and the steps you can take before you travel.
Is it Safe to Fly with High Blood Pressure?
As long as your high blood pressure is controlled, flying with high blood pressure is considered safe. However, you will need to speak to your doctor before making a journey to ensure that you take the right precautions and know what warning signs to look out for.
The main risk for those combining high blood pressure and flying is developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in one of your veins and can lead to a pulmonary embolism which has very serious consequences.
The risk of DVT is higher when you fly because you tend to be sat down in one position for a long period of time. People with high blood pressure are at a greater risk of developing DVT when they are on long-distance flights, which is why they should ensure they take any necessary medication and follow other steps to reduce this risk.
Flying at high altitudes, even in a pressurised cabin, can also put passengers at risk of a lower oxygen concentration in their blood called hypoxaemia. This might not necessarily affect people with high blood pressure, but can put you slightly more at risk if you have a heart condition.
Advice for Flying with High Blood Pressure
Having high blood pressure doesn’t stop most people from being able to fly, especially when you follow the necessary health and safety advice. This is:
- Try and avoid stress and anxiety at the airport and whilst you travel, using techniques like deep breathing or meditation to calm yourself down
- Ensure that any medication has been taken and keep it in your hand luggage in case you need to take another dose
- Wear compression socks, get up and move around during your flight, and perform DVT-prevention exercises regularly if you are on a long journey
- Bring water and snacks with added salt, as this can help prevent hypoxaemia
- Avoid drinking any alcohol before and during the flight
- Purchase travel insurance that covers pre-existing medical conditions like high blood pressure for added peace of mind and to cover you in the event of an emergency
If you’re looking for comprehensive medical insurance for pre-existing health conditions, Navigator Travel offers flexible coverage options that take into account your health, where you are travelling and the risk of further medical complications. You can find out more about our options here.