Doctor’s Travel Tips to High Altitudes with Hypertension

Q:  I traveled to Litang (altitude around 4,000 metres) in Sichuan Province, China several years ago.  On my three month trip I took Chinese AMS medication with water that, but I can not remember the name of it.  Since my trip, I was diagnosed high blood pressure, but it’s been under control with Ramipril 10mg for the past few years.

Now I plan to travel to China again this year and visit Litang again.  My General Practitioner doesn’t know about my travel plans and I can not find anything on the internet indicating whether there would be problems with Ramipril at altitude, whether I should change medication, whether I could or should take the local medication in conjunction with Ramipril.  I will be, at least, on a two day  journey from a major hospital so, I would like to know about possible problems before traveling.

Any advice you can give me for traveling with HBP to China’s high altitude Litang?

Q:  In my opinion there is no reason Ramipril can’t be used for blood pressure control at high altitudes.  I am unaware of any FDA warning against people living in high altitude places taking blood pressure lowering medication.  However, going from a lower altitude to a very high altitude can cause an increase in blood pressure and put a strain on the heart.

Someone planning a trip with a significant change in altitude needs to make sure their blood pressure is well controlled and their doctor feels their heart is strong enough to handle the added strain prior to making the trip.

Blood pressure should be monitored while traveling, since blood pressure medication may need to be increased during the trip.  I do not know anything about Chinese medicine for blood pressure. There are doctors in China and in America that have practices combining the best of both eastern and western medicine.  You might want to arrange a consultation.


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