Philadelphia, PA, May 4, 2010 High altitude medicine is a "natural research laboratory" for the study of cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology. As such, it can shed light on conditions and diseases that mimic the low oxygen content of the atmosphere at the top of mountains. Yves Allemann, MD, FESC, Swiss Cardiovascular Center, University Hospital, Bern, and Urs Scherrer, MD, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, have assembled an international group of leading authorities to contribute to a special issue of Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases dedicated to high-altitude medicine and novel insights into disease mechanisms provided by high-altitude research.
"We have demonstrated that in recent years, the scope of high-altitude research has broadened considerably, because it has become clear that high-altitude offers a unique opportunity to study fundamental mechanisms of disease," according to Guest Editors Allemann and Scherrer. "During the past decade, high-altitude studies have elucidated fundamental novel mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of lung edema and hypoxic pulmonary hypertension. The new knowledge generated by these high-altitude studies has already been transferred to the bedside of patients having these problems at low altitude. Second and equally important, we have shown that high-altitude exposure facilitates the detection of vascular dysfunction in humans. Capitalizing on this observation, high-altitude exposure of young apparently healthy children has allowed demonstrating fetal programming of vascular dysfunction at a very early stage. We predict that high-altitude exposure, real or simulated, will become an important tool for the detection of early vascular dysfunction in humans."
At high altitude, lack of oxygen principally affects the respiratory, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and renal systems. At low altitude, the same effects may occur, not due to ambient lack of oxygen, but as the r
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Elsevier Health Sciences