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    • #14158
      Kathleen Sheffer

      Pulmonologist Recommends PAH Patients Consult Doctors Before High Altitude Exposure

      A few of our members currently live at high altitude. This article discusses how exposure to altitude can increase symptoms and worsen the disease itself. Dr. Feldman predicts that most patients with pulmonary hypertension can tolerate 3,000 feet above sea level, but that the 7,000-foot mark is often the maximum safe elevation.

      Have you ever lived at high altitude? Did PH influence your move? Have your symptoms improved?

    • #14162
      Kathleen Sheffer

      I’ve met three friends over the years who had PAH and lived at high altitude. Unfortunately, each of them eventually required a double-lung transplant, and two of the three have since passed away.

      In both cases, I believe they rejected their transplants due to non-compliance with the strict medication regimen (I witnessed the non-compliance, and don’t toss this term around lightly). Neither of my friends let their illness define their lives, and I have a great deal of respect for that. However, because of this, they were unwilling to do whatever it took to achieve the greatest level of health possible, including move out of their home state.

      We don’t get to judge other people’s choices, but I’m sharing my anecdotal experience to further the point about the significant effects of high altitude.

      Signed, a sea-level California girl who required a heart-lung transplant and has experienced acute organ rejection despite exact adherence to prescribed medications. *shrug*

    • #14407

      I learned by trial and error that I wasn’t going to get along at high altitude… Below are incidents where I experienced near-syncope whilst hiking…

      Age 15, trail at the top of Mt. San Jacinto (Southern CA), at about 9000 ft.
      Age 17, trail running under Mt. Rainier (WA), at about 7000 ft.
      Age 20, Glacier Point (Yosemite Park) Four Mile Trail, 7000 ft.
      Age 23, Clingman’s Dome (Tennessee), 6000 ft.

      All of these were before my PH diagnosis (age 25).

      Vomited at the top of Mt. San Jacinto, and at Mt. Rainier I got so dizzy I mistook a tree stump for a mountain lion and embarrassed my dad by screaming “MOUNTAIN LION!!!” and then passing out. I’m also known for being “passed by grannies with canes” on another park trail that ascended 500 feet by a waterfall. (For what it’s worth my parents were literally right with that observation.)

      On the Four Mile Trail, I just couldn’t keep up with 4 out of my 5 friends. The fifth friend had congenital anemia and we basically stayed behind as the slow ones and stopped at 7000 ft to return to base camp early to reserve a camping spot for the night.

      At Clingman’s Dome, all I did was try to climb the half mile (with a 200 foot ascent) visitor’s trail to the observation deck and collapsed with chest pain halfway up. A pair of ladies who were descending the trail thought I was experiencing a sickle cell attack (apparently the disease is more common down there) and offered to call for an ambulance, but fortunately I knew that wasn’t the problem.

      Anyways, good thing I found out before attempting to move somewhere I couldn’t survive. During my recent job hunt I had to avoid the temptation to apply to positions in places like Denver and Salt Lake City!

    • #14421
      Brittany Foster

      Wow VK,
      Sounds like such a terrible hike !!! (Or attempt at a hike) . I can relate to the feeling of heights making you feel like you’re going to pass out. Even airplanes have been difficult for me. I have to worst jet lag even after a few hour flight. My last plane ride I hit my head in the bathroom because I was so overly dizzy even while using oxygen. Such a scary situation!

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