– Get cleared by your doctor. You may need to have a change in medication or bring oxygen along on your trip (can’t bring it on the plan though—more below). Your doc can also probably give you the name of a reputable heart institute or a trusted physician in the area where you’ll be traveling.
– Ask your pharmacist for advice on international generic and/or brand equivalents of your medication in case you need to fill prescriptions abroad.
– Pack extra prescriptions if you’d like, but especially be sure to have a list of your meds and your cardiologist’s phone number along with you.
– Carefully look over what your health insurance covers. Consider buying medical travel insurance from (Hint! Hint!) a reputable company like G1G.
Directly before your flight:
– Avoid extra stress by staying at an airport hotel the night before.
– Bring extra medication and your prescription in your hand luggage
– If you will need extra oxygen administered during travel, alert the airline ahead of time and they will be able to accommodate you with their own equipment, which must be rented or purchased. Personal oxygen tanks must be checked into cargo.
On the plane: At higher altitudes, hypertension symptoms worsen. Oxygen levels in the bloodstream drop significantly. This is called hypoxia.
– Bring snacks from home in order to avoid salty foods that can increase blood pressure levels.
– Move around as much as possible—try to get an aisle seat so that you flex and keep blood circulating and oxygenated. For this reason, avoid alcohol and sedatives, as they can leave you fairly immobile for long periods of time.
– Bring an ice pack along in case of pain and swelling in your limbs.