Augmented Sympathetic Activation During Short-Term Hypoxia and High-Altitude Exposure in Subjects Susceptible to High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema

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Abstract

Background

Pulmonary hypertension is a hallmark of high-altitude pulmonary edema and may contribute to its pathogenesis. Cardiovascular adjustments to hypoxia are mediated, at least in part, by the sympathetic nervous system, and sympathetic activation promotes pulmonary vasoconstriction and alveolar fluid flooding in experimental animals.

Conclusions

With the use of direct measurements of postganglionic sympathetic nerve discharge, these data provide the first evidence for an exaggerated sympathetic activation in subjects prone to high-altitude pulmonary edema both during short-term hypoxic breathing at low altitude and during actual high-altitude exposure. Sympathetic overactivation may contribute to high-altitude pulmonary edema. (Circulation. 1999;99:1713-1718.)

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