Trekking to high altitudes can be a fascinating experience. Unfortunately, people with pre-existing medical conditions find it difficult to travel to higher altitudes, especially if they have high blood pressure and are using medication for it. This is because ascending to higher altitudes causes your blood pressure to increase, leading to negative consequences.

However with the right precautions and preparation, even hypertensive patients can travel at higher altitudes safely.

What is Hypertension?

High blood pressure (also known as Hypertension) is a common condition in which long term force of the blood against artery walls becomes high, which eventually leads to health problems such as heart disease.

According to guidelines issued by the American Heart Association (AHA), a blood pressure higher than 130 over 80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) is considered to be high blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is 120 over 80 mm of mercury (mmHg).

If you are a patient of hypertension, it is not uncommon for you to experience higher blood pressure than usual while travelling to higher altitudes.

What can Hypertension lead to?

It is a known fact that hypertension can be a very dangerous problem, leading to disability, poor quality of life, or even a fatal heart attack. The consequences of increased blood pressure because of ascension to high altitudes are similar.

Research has found that exposure to very high altitudes of 5,400 meters could possibly lead to an increase of 14 mmHg in systolic blood pressure and 10 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure within a 24-hour period.

As mentioned before, this increased blood pressure can also lead to fatal cardiac arrest if not taken care of.

How does high altitude affect blood pressure?

The higher you travel, the less oxygen you take in with each breath. The body responds to this by increasing the heart rate and the amount of blood pumped with each beat. As a result, there is a temporary increase in blood pressure until the body adapts to the lower oxygen levels.

Amongst the numerous factors that lead to increased blood pressure at high altitudes, the most vital is the effect of oxygen deprivation in increasing activity in the body’s sympathetic nervous system. Deprivation of oxygen leads to the heart working harder and the peripheral blood vessels constricting, which ultimately exerts more pressure on the walls of arteries.

What precautions can you take against Hypertension?

Although there are many risks associated with high blood pressure and ascension to high altitudes, taking the right precautions can help make it safer to travel at higher altitudes.

Here are some of the preventive measures that you can take:

1. The most basic thing you should know is how much to ascend per day.

Generally, it is considered wise to stop under 8000 feet and stay there for at least one night during the first leg of the trip. After that, ascend no more than 2000 feet at a time, with an overnight stay between each ascent.

2. Talk to your doctor before making any plans to go trekking in order to adjust your medications (if necessary), which should include increasing the dose of your usual antihypertensive medication.

3. Always carry emergency supplies of medication in addition to your main supply, just in case you need additional medication while trekking.

4. Stay hydrated as much as possible, as you are likely to experience dehydration while ascending which can cause an increase in blood pressure.

6. Reduce salt in your diet to help maintain blood pressure at a safe level.

7. Travel with a partner, or in group just in case you (or someone else) requires help.

Looking for Reliable and Professional Travel Medicine Consultation in Nepal?

For proper consultation on hypertension and ascension to higher altitudes, visit our medical team at Swacon International Hospital. Our trained team of medical experts can help you if you are suffering from complications due to hypertension after travelling to high altitudes.

To book an appointment, please call us at +977-1-4478105 or email us at


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