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Old 04-11-2009, 04:27 PM
 
115 posts, read 273,076 times
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Default Health issues due to high altitude

We moved here last June. Before arriving I was aware that at first we might be short of breath and that it takes a day or two to get acclimated. None of us experienced any shortmess of breath. We did of course get the dry skin and the dry nasal passages. A few weeks ago my husbands mother and grandmother came to visit us. Grandma died while she was here. Unaware that her heart was in poor condition before she came being here in the higher elevations made her body work harder and she just didn't make it. I learned from the hospital staff that many people come to visit or to ski and have heart attacks because of the higher elevations. I also learned that many pregnant women deliver prematurely because of the elevation as well. Has anyone else experienced this situation?
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Old 04-11-2009, 04:54 PM
 
Location: Erie, PA
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When we moved here (Woodland Park) just a few weeks ago I was really light-headed and a little sick to my stomach. My mother in law had a lot of trouble with her blood-pressure and my sister in law had a bloody nose twice! I'm really interested in what others have to add because my mother is coming to visit next month. She has BP issues and had a heart attack years ago due to a malformed artery in her heart. I'm really nervous about her coming out here and have been encouraging her to talk to her doctor before she makes the trip. Any info I can pass along to her would be excellent....she thinks I'm over-worrying the situation.
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Old 04-11-2009, 05:34 PM
 
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I haven't heard much about this at these elevations, but maybe above 8000 feet, and significantly more above 10000 ft. Clearly elderly people do live here and at the higher elevations as well, and same goes for delivering babies, but if someone is really in poor health travel in general may not be advised - such as getting in a plane even. See High-Altitude Illness: How to Avoid It and How to Treat It -- familydoctor.org for example. I think if you are concerned about a particular person visiting, that person should talk to his/her doctor.

I do know that there are apparently some advantages to the location here for people with certain lung conditions and they used to move tuberculosis patients out here en masse to help them cope with the illness.
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:06 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
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Guess what else? Colorado is the worst state for kidney stones. The high altitude and lower air pressure allow mineral deposits to release into the urinary tract. And then the dryness helps the stones happen in the first place.

I could see how it might make your heart work harder. I think there is 3 percent less oxygen in the air for every 1000 feet of altitude you gain. At 6,800 feet, that's about 20 percent less of the good stuff.
One time I took some friends up Pike's Peak and one guy got really light headed and we literally had to rush off the mountain to get him to Colo. Spgs, which is still WAY higher than anywhere the guy had ever lived. He was from Jamaica. It was a little scary. But that is the only first hand experience I have had with heart or breathing problems. Of course my wife has had kidney stones, which is when I learned from an ER surgeon that Colorado is bad for stones. He said to drink lots of water to keep the kidneys flushed out.

I don't get the whole "Let's live way up in the mountains where the summers are short and the air is thin and cold." Maybe it's a youth thing. I moved here when I was 30 for the weather (I was sick of the heat in Abq.) and also for the fly fishing. But it's time to move on.
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Old 04-11-2009, 06:15 PM
 
Location: Erie, PA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Userdavey View Post
I don't get the whole "Let's live way up in the mountains where the summers are short and the air is thin and cold." Maybe it's a youth thing. I moved here when I was 30 for the weather (I was sick of the heat in Abq.) and also for the fly fishing. But it's time to move on.
You sound tired of this place. I don't think anyone comes here for the thin air and kidney stones. I suppose that if you've lived around the mountains for a long time you might forget how amazing they are and all the natural beauty you find among them. 'Course, I'm new here and I've wished for this for a long time.
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Old 04-11-2009, 08:34 PM
 
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Little city max, I hope your mother does well if she visits. I would love to know. Something I heard the doctor say while we were at the hospital was that it might of helped if grandma came with some oxygen. Maybe your mom can talk to her doctor and send her with a portable oxygen tank to compensate for the loss of oxygen here and her heart won't have to work harder. Also Otowi, Grandma as far as she knew she was in good health. While she was here in the hospital they did a heart cathedar that showed all of her blockage that did not happen over night. It was totally unknown to her.
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Old 04-12-2009, 08:40 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
309 posts, read 656,430 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by little city max View Post
You sound tired of this place. I don't think anyone comes here for the thin air and kidney stones. I suppose that if you've lived around the mountains for a long time you might forget how amazing they are and all the natural beauty you find among them. 'Course, I'm new here and I've wished for this for a long time.
I guess I always want to see what else there is to see. That's what brought me to the Springs in the first place. I have said before, the snow is great fun to watch (It is really coming down even as I type!), and I love driving in it and all, but after years of long winters, it's getting a little old. I still like the Springs...it's way better than Albuquerque was in many ways, but I am now looking for a warmer, more tropical locale.
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Old 04-16-2009, 12:14 PM
 
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I think everyone is different ever since I moved here I have had nothing but health problems and I was perfectly fine before I got here. eczema is very bad an popped up outof nowhere. dry eyes that burn extreamly dry and raw throat dry sinues nose bleeds ....... i notice im more tired here as well for some reason. now my one child and dh have the same issues i do but my other kids are fine with no prob besides bloddy noses .... so i think it all depends on the person, as for me its time to move its just way to hard on my body
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Old 04-16-2009, 01:19 PM
 
Location: north of Denver, east of Boulder
106 posts, read 245,367 times
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Lildreamer, sorry to hear about your grandmother. And the dry skin and dry nasal passages are common, but I'll take those things over humidity any day.

As you gain altitude your body will begin to make more red blood cells, which will in turn make your blood thicker. Thus, for people with any blockage and/or narrow arteries, the thicker blood will make them much more prone to having a heart attack. Even slight blockage will be much more pronounced as your blood thickens.

I can't remember the exact figure, but I think it’s somewhere around 20,000 feet where your blood becomes almost twice as thick as it is at sea level.

At high altitudes, you may also breath faster (at a shorter, more rapid rate), even when at rest, and your heart will beat faster (i.e., work harder). To most healthy/acclimated adults, these things might just be slight annoyances (especially when you’re trying to sleep, where you might experience sleep apnea-like episodes), but for older and/or unhealthier folk, this is added stress on already fragile hearts.

I don’t think most people have much of a problem at 5,000 feet, but when you get above 7,500, that’s where most problems begin to arise (if they arise at all). And it becomes exponentially worse with every couple thousand feet of gain. For example: Going from an elevation of 3,000 to 5,000 feet is barely noticeable; but, more than likely, you’ll notice 15,000 to 17,000.

When my mom visited one year, she was fine at 6,000. But when we went to just 7,500, she got all dizzy and lightheaded. Then, someone I know is fine up to 12,000 feet; but no matter what, he always gets sick if he goes any higher. Everyone seems to have a different "number."

Every year a handful of people die on Colorado’s high peaks. Most common reasons, in no particular order: unroped falls, lightning strikes, hypothermia and heart attacks.

Two weeks after I climbed Kilimanjaro in 2007, I heard someone died at the 15,000-foot high camp. They suspected it was a heart attack. Happens more often than people realize.

Last edited by Lupulin; 04-16-2009 at 01:33 PM..
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Old 04-17-2009, 02:39 PM
 
115 posts, read 273,076 times
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Lupulin thanks for all the info. You know your stuff. Does it mostly affect people when they first arrive? I guess what I am asking will our heart always work harder even after being acclimated? We can live long and healthy lives here if we begin that way right?
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