Known as HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), a condition in which there is accumulation in the lungs of extravascular fluid (fluid outside of blood vessels) at high altitude, a consequence of rapid altitude ascent, especially when that ascent is accompanied by significant exercise.
HAPE leads to dyspnea (shortness of breath), cough, tachycardia (fast heart rate) and decreased arterial oxygen levels. HAPE varies in degree from very mild to potentially fatal.
Some people may be genetically susceptible to HAPE. People who develop HAPE have smaller lungs, higher pulmonary artery pressures, and higher pulmonary artery wedge pressures during exercise at sea level than those who do not develop HAPE.
The incidence of HAPE has been analyzed in a prospective study of people climbing a 4500-meter mountain. 15% of climbers had clearcut evidence of HAPE from examination of the chest (by stethoscope or X-ray) after their climb. There is probably a risk of HAPE for most climbers if the rate of ascent and degree of physical effort are great enough. (Lancet Jan. 24, 2002).
The planning and pacing of ascents is of critical importance. HAPE tends to be less frequent on well-planned, gradual ascents to much greater heights, despite the greater degree of hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels).
- Pulmonary embolism
Sudden closure of a pulmonary artery or one of its branches, caused by a blood-borne clot or foreign material that plugs the vessel.
- Pulmonary embolus
A blood clot or foreign material that has been carried through the blood into the pulmonary artery or one of its branches, plugging the vessel.
- Pulmonary fibrosis
Scarring throughout the lungs that can be caused by many conditions, such as sarcoidosis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, asbestosis, and certain medications. Pulmonary fibrosis can also occur without an identifiable cause, in which case it is referred to as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, and diminished exercise tolerance. Treatment involves use of corticosteroids […]
- Pulmonary function test
A test that is designed to measure how well the lungs are working. Abbreviated PFT. PFTs gauge how the lungs are expanding and contracting (when a person inhales and exhales) and measure the efficiency of the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the blood and the air within the lungs.
- Pulmonary hypertension
High blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries. This elevated blood pressure can lead to severe shortness of breath and death. Lung transplantation is considered in severe cases that are unresponsive to treatments.