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High-altitude physiology and pathophysiology: implications and relevance for intensive care medicine

Authors
Journal
Critical Care
1364-8535
Publisher
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Volume
11
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1186/cc5142
Keywords
  • Review
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine

Abstract

Cellular hypoxia is a fundamental mechanism of injury in the critically ill. The study of human responses to hypoxia occurring as a consequence of hypobaria defines the fields of high-altitude medicine and physiology. A new paradigm suggests that the physiological and pathophysiological responses to extreme environmental challenges (for example, hypobaric hypoxia, hyper-baria, microgravity, cold, heat) may be similar to responses seen in critical illness. The present review explores the idea that human responses to the hypoxia of high altitude may be used as a means of exploring elements of the pathophysiology of critical illness.

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