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The Effects Of High Altitude On The Circulatory System

Many people are known to fall sick when they travel to high altitude. Altitude sickness happens due to change in oxygen levels and air pressure at high elevations. Let us know about the effects of high altitude on the circulatory system.

The Effects Of High Altitude On The Circulatory System

The effects of high altitude on the circulatory system are well-documented and can be significant. At high altitudes, the air is less dense, which means there is less oxygen available for the body to use.3 This can lead to a number of physiological changes in the circulatory system, including changes in blood flow, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Effects of high altitude on the circulatory system

One of the most notable effects of high altitude on the circulatory system is an increase in blood flow to the heart and lungs.1 This is known as the “high altitude response” and is the body’s way of compensating for the lack of oxygen. The increase in blood flow helps to transport more oxygen to the cells, but can also lead to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

Another effect of high altitude is an increase in red blood cells, which also help to transport oxygen throughout the body2. This is known as “altitude-induced erythrocytosis” and can occur within a few days of exposure to high altitude. However, this adaptation can take weeks to months, and can be long-lasting.

Prolonged exposure to high altitude can also lead to the development of chronic mountain sickness, which is characterized by symptoms such as headache, fatigue and shortness of breath.1 The condition is caused by the accumulation of fluid in the lungs and brain and can be fatal if left untreated. High altitude effect on the circulatory system

Overall, the circulatory system is affected by high altitude exposure, and these effects can be beneficial or harmful depending on the individual’s health status and the duration of exposure. It’s essential to be prepared and aware of the potential risks when going to high altitude regions.


  1. “High Altitude Medicine” by Andrew J. Luks and George B. Ricco, Published by Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  2. “High Altitude and Human Adaptation” by Charles S. Houston, Published by Cambridge University Press, 2016.
  3. “High Altitude Medicine” by John B. West, Published by Oxford University Press, 2018.
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 17, 2023

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