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Journal Articles Revue des Maladies Respiratoires Year : 2022

[Adaptation to altitude in respiratory diseases]

Adaptation à l’altitude dans les maladies respiratoires


The frequency of high-altitude sojourns (for work, leisure, air travel or during car/train journeys) justifies the question of their tolerance, especially in people with pre-existing respiratory disease. Reduced barometric pressure and abrupt variations in temperature and inhaled air density may be responsible for modifications affecting the respiratory system and, in fine, oxygenation. These modifications may compromise altitude tolerance, further worsen respiratory dysfunction and render physical exercise more difficult. In obstructive lung disease, altitude is associated with gas exchange impairment, increased ventilation at rest and during exercise and heightened pulmonary artery pressure through hypoxic vasoconstriction, all of which may worsen dyspnea and increase the risk of altitude intolerance (acute mountain sickness, AMS). The most severe patients require rigorous evaluation, and hypoxic testing can be proposed. People with mild to moderate intermittent asthma can plan high altitude sojourns, provided that they remain under control at night and during exercise, and follow an adequate action plan in case of exacerbation. Respiratory disease patients with pulmonary artery hypertension (PAH) and chemoreflex control abnormalities need to be identified as at risk of altitude intolerance.
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Dates and versions

inserm-03803786 , version 1 (06-10-2022)



B. Wuyam, S. Baillieul, S. Doutreleau, S. Vergès. Adaptation à l’altitude dans les maladies respiratoires. Revue des Maladies Respiratoires, 2022, 39 (1), pp.26-33. ⟨10.1016/j.rmr.2021.11.004⟩. ⟨inserm-03803786⟩


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