Holidays & Travel

If you have high blood pressure and are planning a holiday or travelling abroad some preparation before you travel could save you a lot of unnecessary problems. If you want to know more about taking medications abroad, flying, travel insurance and other related issues for those with high blood pressure

Travel and Medications for High Blood Pressure

If you take medications to manage your high blood pressure you will need to make sure you have enough supplies with some extra,
know what to do if you lose or forget them and how they may affect you whilst you are away.

What plans do I need to make before I travel?

It is a good idea to talk to your doctor or practice nurse well before you travel. If you are going to be away from home for more
than a few weeks ask your doctor to give you a prescription for the length of your trip plus a little extra, in case of emergencies
or if you lose any tablets. Your doctor can also tell you if there are any special precautions you should take and whether you need any extra medication or vaccinations.

Make a list of all your medications, how many you take and when and what they are for. You will need to know both the brand name
of the medicine and the generic or pharmaceutical name. For example a generic name is Amlodipine but the brand name is Istin, in the
same way that a generic name would be bread and the brand name would be Hovis. Both the brand and the generic name will always be written on your pack of tablets. It is a good idea to take a copy with you of the leaflet that comes in the pack with your tablets. In some
countries the brand name will be different from that in the UK.

If possible do not start a new medication for your blood pressure in the month before you go away. You may have side effects, which
could make you feel unwell and ruin your holiday, or your blood pressure may not be sufficiently well controlled.

If you are following a special diet of any kind contact the airline and any hotel you are going to use before you travel.

If you have any other conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, talk to your doctor before you book any travel arrangements.

What do I need to know when I am away?

The following tips will help you to stay well whilst you are away from home:

  • If you are flying to your destination and you take medication every day or at other regular intervals always carry it with you
    in your hand luggage, ie, the bag you will be carrying with you onto the plane. You may be delayed or your luggage may go astray. Keep all medications in their original containers as this may save you a lot of trouble at customs
  • If you are flying across time zones the times when you would normally take your tablets will change. To adjust to the times
    at your destination begin by taking your tablets at the same times as if you were still at home. Once you get to your destination
    slowly adjust the time when you take your medication to fall in with the clocks there
  • In some countries you will be able to buy medicines at a pharmacy if you run out or lose them. Be aware that it may be more difficult to get hold of medicines in isolated areas or outside of main towns and cities. In some countries you may need to have a doctor’s prescription. Even if medications available in other parts of the world appear to be similar to those prescribed in the UK the formulation may be slightly different so it is always best to have enough of your own tablets to last for the whole of your trip
  • If you forget or lose your medicine and have to go to a doctor for help you might find that their way of treating high blood pressure is different from that followed in the UK. Details of all your medicines and copies of any information leaflets are important to ensure that you continue with the same treatment
  • If you become ill on your trip, are sick and have diarrhoea, then you need to make sure you treat this quickly and properly.
    Drink plenty of water, or sugary drinks left to go flat. If the sickness is bad or lasts more than a few days then take rehydration
    salts such as Dioralyte and see a doctor. If you are taking an ACE inhibitor and you have sickness and diarrhoea you should get
    your blood pressure checked. If it is low, you should stop taking the ACE inhibitor until your blood pressure is back to its normal
    level. This is because loss of fluid from the body increases the blood pressure lowering effect of ACE Inhibitors and Angiotensin
    Receptor Blockers and can possibly damage the kidneys

Air travel

Is it safe to fly if I have high blood pressure?

More and more people now fly to their holiday destinations. It is generally safe for you to fly if you have high blood pressure
and it is well controlled. However, if your blood pressure is unstable or very high then you should talk to your doctor before you make
any travel plans. It makes good sense to see your doctor before you travel and have your blood pressure checked, even if it is well

When flying there are still some other precautions that you need to take:

Exercise and drink plenty

Lack of exercise and movement as well as dehydration can cause a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is when a blood clot forms in the
veins of the leg and can then travel through the body to the lungs, heart or brain. It can be a very serious condition. Any form of
travel where you sit cramped up without moving or being able to move for long periods of time can put you at risk of a DVT. This
means that long journeys by car, coach or train can also increase your risk. Many airlines will now give you information on the flight
about how to prevent DVT. The general advice is as follows:

  • Move around in your seat and within the aircraft cabin as much as possible, at least once an hour
  • Exercise your lower leg (calf) muscles while you are sitting down. You can even buy gadgets which help you to exercise these muscles
  • Drink plenty or water; avoid drinking too much alcohol and drinks containing caffeine, like cola drinks and coffee
  • Check whether it would be sensible to wear compression stockings on long journeys, especially if you are flying.

If you are worried about whether or not it is safe for you to fly then talk to your GP. For some medical conditions you may need to
check with the airline and be passed fit to fly. You will need medical clearance by the airline you travel with if your fitness to travel
is in doubt or if you need special services such as oxygen. Your travel agent can give you a form, which you and your doctor will
need to complete and send to the airline well before you travel.

Very few people are not able to fly because of their health.