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Author Topic: Climbers at Risk of High Altitude Lung Illness  (Read 4408 times)

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Climbers at Risk of High Altitude Lung Illness
« on: Jan 31 2002, 15:23 »

Here's more about the effects of altitude on climbers . We met these gusy last summer in the Monte Rosa hut when doing our cycle and climb from Amsterdam to the Alps (see http://www.bike2matter.com for reports and pictures  8) ). Happy reading, the 7summits team

(Original article to be found here: http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Living/reuters20020125_538.html)

Climbers at Risk of High Altitude Lung Illness

By Keith Mulvihill
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Three out of four mountain climbers appear to develop a mild form of a rare, potentially life-threatening lung problem that can occur in those climbing to high altitudes, according to researchers.

However, the amount of fluid build-up in the lungs of most climbers is relatively small and they may not experience obvious symptoms.
The condition is known as high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), and is caused by a build-up of fluid in the lungs due to an elevated lung pressure in low-oxygen conditions. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough and rapid heart rate.
The incidence of HAPE in the US is generally believed to be between 2% and 5%, the researchers note in the January 26th issue of the journal The Lancet.

Dr. George Cremona of San Raffaele University Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy and his colleagues performed lung examinations on 262 climbers before and after an expedition. The climbers were evaluated at the beginning of a climb near 3,900 feet and again at their destination near the top of Monte Rosa, which has an elevation of nearly 15,000 feet, and is located on the border of Italy and Switzerland.

While only one of the climbers was evacuated with HAPE, 40 climbers had evidence of lung deterioration after their ascent up the mountain and 34 of this group were found to have mild HAPE, but with no apparent outward symptoms.
Of the 197 other climbers who were not diagnosed with fluid in their lungs, 146 did have slightly more air in their lungs after exhalation, interpreted as a sign that these climbers had a very mild form of HAPE, co-author Dr. Peter D. Wagner, of the University of California, San Diego, explained in an interview with Reuters Health.

"Our major finding was that 75% of climbers had evidence of subclinical HAPE by this test, a much higher proportion than has been reported using blunter assessments," Wagner said.
"This suggests that in 75% of (individuals), an arduous but nontechnical climb like that of Monte Rosa puts the lungs of most (people) right on the edge of developing HAPE, such that much more effort or altitude could be dangerous," he added.

The researchers also found that the 25% of the climbers who had no signs of HAPE whatsoever had larger than average lung size (in relation to their body size), while the 75% of those with mild HAPE had normal to small lung size.
"Thus, a second conclusion was that having large lungs for your body size affords some protection from all of this," Wagner told Reuters Health.

In an effort to prevent HAPE, Wagner suggests that climbers ascend in altitude gradually and limit the intensity of exercise.
"HAPE happens usually in the first couple of days if it is going to happen (at all)," he told Reuters Health.

SOURCE: The Lancet 2002;359:303-309
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"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

trunl

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Re:Climbers at Risk of High Altitude Lung Illness
« Reply #1 on: Oct 9 2003, 03:53 »

so what the article is saying is that we need to make our lungs larger in order to prevent HAPE?
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