For many people, a fear of flying means worrying about an unlikely tragic event. But for people with chronic health conditions, like heart disease or high blood pressure, other concerns come to mind.

People are at a higher altitude when they fly. People who live or visit high altitude locations can experience headaches and nausea, but they are usually caused by other things. The pressurization in the cabin prevents most of the symptoms.

If they have their condition under control, people with high blood pressure can travel by plane.

If you have high blood pressure, you need to take precautions. The risks and what you need to do to prevent health problems are explored in this article.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is defined as a reading above 130/80 mm Hg for most people. Roughly half of all Americans have some degree of hypertension.

The condition increases your risk of both heart attack and stroke, and it contributed to some degree to more than half a million deaths in 2019 alone.

High blood pressure can be dangerous at any elevation. People who live in high altitude areas have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.

Other health risks at high altitudes include:

Many of these complications develop in people who live in or spend long periods at altitudes of 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) or higher above sea level. Airplanes typically fly higher than 9,000 meters (30,000 feet) above sea level. But you usually avoid the physical effects of being at this elevation because of the way airplane cabins are pressurized.

People who take medication for high blood pressure are not likely to have health problems at higher altitudes. This risk increases with high blood pressure.

There is little data on monitoring changes in your heart health with just occasional flying. But a 2021 study found that even healthy men without any heart disease had a 6 percent increase in blood pressure during commercial flights.

Anxiety and other issues that might arise during a flight can also contribute to symptoms and increase your blood pressure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medical emergencies occur in about 1 in 600 flights.

Medical emergencies are the most common on flights.

Some of these emergencies can arise from high blood pressure. The chances of developing blood clots are also elevated during flight and in people with high blood pressure.

If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about how to manage it. Pack your regular medications with you on the flight to manage your blood pressure.

The dry conditions in the cabin may also lead to dehydration, which can sometimes cause your blood pressure to rise. Be sure to drink enough water and stay hydrated before, during, and after your flight.

People with high blood pressure can use these tips.

  • Discuss your travel plans with your doctor.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption on your flight.
  • Airline food can contain a lot of salt, which can increase your blood pressure.
  • Avoid sedative and hypnotic medications during your flight.
  • Don’t use decongestants that can increase blood pressure.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • You should get up and walk around every 2 hours.
  • Keep moving between walks with simple exercises in your seat.
  • Inform the flight crew if you have any concerns or medical symptoms.

Can I bring a blood pressure monitor on a plane?

Yes. You can bring medical devices in your carry-on bag. There may be limitations to devices with prohibited materials.

Is blood pressure medication allowed in my carry-on?

Yes. You can bring your prescription medication with you on your flight. It is best to have a sufficient supply of your blood pressure medication with you. Keep your prescription information visible and keep your medications in their original container.

Can I take motion sickness medications, like Dramamine, if I have high blood pressure? Will it interfere with my blood pressure medication?

Dramamine and other forms of dimenhydrinate are not known to interfere with blood pressure medication.

It is always a good idea to check with your doctor about possible interactions between your prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

“Most people think that flying is a safe way to travel, but it isn’t. It is possible to spend a lot of time on planes or flying with high blood pressure.”

If you want to limit your chances of developing blood pressure problems, you should have your blood pressure checked before you go. Pack enough of your medication for your flight.