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 REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 59-62

High altitude pulmonary edema-clinical features, pathophysiology, prevention and treatment


Department of Physiology, GMERS Medical College, Gotri, Vadodara, Gujarat, India

Correspondence Address:
Swapnil J Paralikar
18, Taksh Bungalows, Near Shobhana Nagar, Vasna Road, Baroda 390 021, Gujarat
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.107066

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High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is a noncardiogenic pulmonary edema which typically occurs in lowlanders who ascend rapidly to altitudes greater than 2500-3000 m. Early symptoms of HAPE include a nonproductive cough, dyspnoea on exertion and reduced exercise performance. Later, dyspnoea occurs at rest. Clinical features are cyanosis, tachycardia, tachypnoea and elevated body temperature generally not exceeding 38.5°C. Rales are discrete initially and located over the middle lung fields. HAPE mainly occurs due to exaggerated hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction and elevated pulmonary artery pressure. It has been observed that HAPE is a high permeability type of edema occurring also due to leaks in the capillary wall ('stress failure'). Slow descent is the most effective method for prevention; in addition, graded ascent and time for acclimatization, low sleeping altitudes, avoidance of alcohol and sleeping pills, and avoidance of exercise are the key to preventing HAPE. Treatment of HAPE consists of immediate improvement of oxygenation either by supplemental oxygen, hyperbaric treatment, or by rapid descent.






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