Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Is it okay to travel to a high altitude with high blood pressure?

Q. Some friends invited me to accompany them to Rocky Mountain National Park. I would love to go, but I have high blood pressure and worry that high altitudes are dangerous for people with this condition. Is that the case?

A. If you have high blood pressure but are otherwise healthy, your blood pressure is under control, and you take some precautions, a trip to the Rocky Mountains should be fine.

The higher you travel, the less oxygen you take in with each breath. The body responds by increasing the heart rate and the amount of blood pumped with each beat. This temporarily increases blood pressure until the body adapts to the lower oxygen level, usually within a couple of days.

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