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How does altitude affect blood pressure?

On Health & Drugs & Medications » Heart Diseases

3,732 words with 7 Comments; publish: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 19:27:00 GMT; (90093.75, « »)

85 year old on medicine for moderately high blood pressure will be traveling to New Mexico. Anyone know whether a change in altitude from sea level to an elevated area affect the blood pressure and if so, how?

Thanks in advance... K.

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  • 7 Comments
    • 85 year old on medicine for moderately high blood pressure will be traveling to New Mexico. Anyone know whether a change in altitude from sea level to an elevated area affect the blood pressure and if so, how?

      Thanks in advance... K.

      Hi Ken,

      Altitudes less than 5 miles above sea level usually is not a problem...A gradual ascent to Denver (mile high) would provide a safe reaction as it gives the system time to adjust.

      For some perspective, oxygen easily passes through lung membranes into the blood at sea level. High altitudes (lower air pressure) makes it difficult for oxygen to enter one's vascular system (medically termed hypoxia).

      Hypoxia creates an inability to do normal activities without fatigue. There is an increase risk of heart failure due to the added stress placed on lungs, heart and arteries at high altitude.

      And there is an increase in breathing and heart rate to as much as double even while resting. Pulse rate and blood pressure go up sharply as our hearts pump harder to get more oxygen to the cells. These are stressful changes, especially for people with weak hearts.

      #1; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 18:53:00 GMT
    • Ken,

      Altitude is not generally a problem for people with ESSENTIAL hypertension but it can be a deadly serious issue with those suffering from PULMONARY HYPERTENSION.

      In general, I look at increased altitude as lowering the pressure on the body and thus releiving resistance on the entire vascular system. So, if anything, the effect would be like taking a peripheral dilator and thus high altitude might be expected to lower BP somewhat. Probably the opposite effect might be seen in deep sea diving but then there are probably very few 85 year olds experiencing THAT effect. :D:D

      #2; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 18:54:00 GMT
    • The bends has more to due with pressure changes, but the etiology of high altitude has more to due with rarefied (less dense) air that contains less oxygen.

      Inadditon to some impairment of the anotomic transport mechanism for oxygen, a deficit of oxygen compromises lungs, heart, etc. There will be an increase in repiration and heart rate to compensate. May be detrimental depending altitude and one's condition.

      #3; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 18:55:00 GMT
    • In additon to some impairment of the anotomic transport mechanism for oxygen, a deficit of oxygen compromises lungs, heart, etc. There will be an increase in repiration and heart rate to compensate. May be detrimental depending altitude and one's condition.

      Thanks for the comments.

      I wonder whether carrying a small bottle of oxygen would be beneficial (if oxygen is permitted on airlines), considering that Santa Fe at about 6800' is not all that extreme; or whether a compromised delivery system could still lead to a deficiency.

      #4; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 18:56:00 GMT
    • Ken,

      My guess is that pressurized oxygen is absoutely VERBOTEN on planes these days. "No officer, I KNOW it looks just like a cruise missile but it ISN'T, it's only a tank of highly pressured gas that will cause anything to burn wildly!":jester: :jester:

      You could probably buy it in Santa Fe though if you need it.

      You won't have any problems if you don't overexert.

      #5; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 18:57:00 GMT
    • A problem at the altitude you describe wouldn't be any problem if your heart rate and blood pressure is under control and no respiratory problems.
      #6; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 18:58:00 GMT
    • Guess I'll leave that bottle of oxygen at home and see if I can find some common sense to take with me instead :)

      Thanks for all the input...

      K.

      #7; Tue, 18 Dec 2007 18:59:00 GMT