High-altitude pulmonary edema is a life-threatening problem, and physicians need to know how to advise individuals planning high-altitude activities. The article by Maggiorini et al provides up-to-date information on how to treat and prevent this important disease.
Sometimes, a hypoxic environment is deliberately sought by endurance athletes who try to naturally augment their oxygen transport capacity. Should the athlete live high and train low or live low and train high? Vogt and Hoppeler bring together the latest concepts on that topic of debate.
Of course, for high altitude populations in the Andes, the Himalayas, or other mountainous regions around the globe, hypoxia is a natural condition of life. In an article by Stuber et al, they describe the cardiovascular adaptation mechanisms of the Bolivian Aymaras and how these differ from chronic adaptation mechanisms of Caucasians living at the same altitude. These differences and their possible positive or negative long-term consequences on cardiopulmonary health are also discussed.
Adaptation mechanisms to hypoxia can sometimes go beyond their primary goal of maintaining adequate tissue oxygenation. In chronic mountain sickness, affected patients develop, usually insidiously over time, excessive erythrocytosis, hypoxemia, and pulmonary hypertension that can have a major negative impact on quality of life. These cardiovascular consequences of chronic mountain sickness are explained by Len-Velarde et al.
These articles appear in a special issue of Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, High Altitude Cardiopulmonary Physiology, Pathophysiology and Disease, Volume 52, Number 6, (May/June 2010), published by Elsevier.
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Elsevier Health Sciences