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Is There a Correlation Between High Altitude and Blood Pressure?

correlation between high altitude and blood pressure

It’s easy to see the allure of the mountain lifestyle. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy a wide range of activities surrounded by breathtaking views. This is one of the primary reasons why so many people choose to either live in high-altitude locations or vacation at high altitude.

While the active lifestyle benefits associated with high altitude locations are numerous, it’s also important to understand the potential negative effects altitude may have on your health. One of these relates to blood pressure. Numerous studies have found a correlation between high altitude and an increase in blood pressure.

How Does High Altitude Impact Blood Pressure?

High altitude locations – typically considered to be anywhere above 9,840 feet – tend to have a significantly lower atmospheric pressure than is found near sea level. As a result, your body takes in less oxygen with each breath. This causes your body’s heart rate to increase to pump more blood with each beat and ensure your organs receive sufficient oxygen.

When your heart rate rises to accommodate for the lower oxygen levels in your body, it also results in a temporary increase in your blood pressure while your body adapts to these lower oxygen levels. This is due to the fact that oxygen deprivation increases the activity in your body’s sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight nervous system), causing your heart to work harder and your peripheral blood vessels to constrict. This places additional pressure on the walls of your arteries, elevating your blood pressure.

Does Living at High Altitude Predispose You to High Blood Pressure?

does living at high altitude predispose you to high blood pressure?A summary of a meta-analysis presented by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine discusses a significant correlation between high altitude and the likelihood of developing high blood pressure. This study evaluated the relationship between altitude and high blood pressure for individuals living in Tibet, one of the highest-altitude regions in the world. According to their findings, between 23-56% of individuals assessed in eight separate surveys experienced high blood pressure. In addition, there was a 2% increase in the prevalence of high blood pressure for every 100 m increase in altitude (approximately 328 feet).

Keep in mind that to be considered a high-altitude location, you must be above 9,840 feet. Very few cities or towns in the United States are at this elevation. Therefore, the number of people who are considered to live at high altitude in this country is very small. That being said, if you do live near or above 9,840, it’s important to have your blood pressure monitored regularly.

Can I Travel to High Altitude if I Have High Blood Pressure?

Individuals with high blood pressure may be at increased risk of adverse health consequences when traveling to high-altitude locations. But the good news is that with the right precautions and preparation, you can most likely travel safely at high altitudes, even if you have high blood pressure. These preventive measures include:

South Denver Cardiology Associates Can Help You Manage Your High Blood Pressure

If you’re planning on traveling to a high altitude location, South Denver Cardiology Associates can help you safely manage your high blood pressure – both during your trip and when you return to Denver.

Our Prevention Clinic provides comprehensive treatments and therapies to keep your blood pressure at save levels (should this be the prevention clinic? I defer to Paul). You can also take advantage of our nutritional counseling services and medical fitness gym to make lifestyle adjustments that will help you maintain healthier blood pressure levels.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.


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As with any health concerns, your specific treatment program should be discussed thoroughly with your primary care physician as well as any specialists who may need to be consulted – like a cardiologist.

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