High blood pressure is sometimes referred to as a stealth disease. Also known as hypertension, as many as one in four adults in the UK are thought to have high blood pressure, although many won’t even be aware of it.
For the majority, high blood pressure is a symptomless condition. Most people will have no idea they have it until a routine check-up with their doctor flags it up. Others may start to experience symptoms such as headaches, tiredness and chest pains. If left untreated, it can have devastating consequences, including causing strokes and heart attacks.
Because of the association with heart disease, being diagnosed with high blood pressure makes people nervous about doing things they love, like playing sports or going travelling. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and are worrying about your next planned trip away, here’s what you need to know.
Is it safe to fly?
Flying can trigger medical problems associated with blood circulation such as deep vein thrombosis, so it is natural to be concerned about the impact flying could have on your blood pressure. As long as your high blood pressure is well-managed and stable, there should be absolutely no problems with flying. Where you do have to be cautious is if you have recently been experiencing unstable fluctuations in your blood pressure. If you have any doubts, speak to your doctor.
You need to get special travel insurance
This comes as a surprise to many people, but if you have had a diagnosis for high blood pressure, whether or not you are currently on any medication for it, you need to get travel insurance which specifically mentions the condition in the schedule of cover. This is because insurance providers consider that any medical condition increases the risk of you falling ill and needing assistance abroad. In the normal run of things, a travel insurance policy will cover you for the costs of any treatment you need. But if you have a pre-existing medical problem, you have to declare it – to give the provider the opportunity to charge more to cover the increased risk of a pay out, or refuse to cover you at all.
Travel insurance for high blood pressure is easy to find through providers that specialise in policies for people with medical conditions, and won’t cost you too much more than a standard policy. Whatever you think about having to pay more, it is not worth the risk of sticking to a standard policy – if you make a claim for medical treatment and it is discovered you have high blood pressure, you won’t get your pay out, leaving you to foot a hefty medical bill.
Take all the medication you need with you
Finally, if you are on prescription medication for your high blood pressure, it is strongly recommended that you get a prescription for everything you will need while you are away and take it with you. You may find it difficult to get the medications you need while abroad, even if you take a prescription with you – brand names differ, you may have to see a local doctor first before a pharmacy accepts your prescription, and you will be charged for the full cost of drugs.