Sumary of Heading to the Mountains? Heart Patients Should Check With Their Doctor First:
- 10, 2021 — If the Alps or the Rockies are on your bucket list, check with your doctor first if you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease.
- New advice from the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests certain people take precautions before going to high altitude places.
- These recommendations apply to folks with high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmias) or heart failure.
- In mountainous areas — particularly heights of 9,800 to 16,400 feet above sea level — activities such as skiing, hiking, bicycling or climbing can stress the heart and blood vessels because of lower levels of oxygen and changes in air pressure, temperature and humidity.
- At high altitudes, the heart needs more oxygen-rich blood, even at rest.
- Fainting is common, even at altitudes of 8,800 feet above sea level and can happen within a day, according to the AHA statement.
- “Many people and health care professionals are familiar with symptoms of acute mountain sickness like headaches, dizziness, nausea and weakness,” said Dr. William Cornwell III, chair of the scientific statement writing group and an assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.
- “However, they may be less aware of the stress placed on the body — and particularly the heart and lungs — when people with cardiovascular disease travel to mountainous regions where there is a reduction in oxygen availability compared to sea-level conditions.