Evidence for increased intrathoracic fluid volume in man at high altitude

J. J. Jaeger, J. T. Sylvester, A. Cymerman, J. J. Berberich, J. C. Denniston, J. T. Maher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


To determine if subclinical pulmonary edema occurs commonly at high altitude, 25 soldiers participated in two consecutive 72-hr field exercises, the first at low altitude (200-875 m) and the scond at high altitude (3,000-4,300 m). Various aspects of ventilatory function and pulmonary mechanics were measured at 0, 36, and 72 hr of each exercise. Based on physical examination and chest radiographs there was no evidence of pulmonary edema at high altitude. There was, however, an immediate and sustained decrease in vital capacity and transthoracic electrical impedance as well as a clockwise rotation of the transpulmonary pressure-volume curve. In contrast, closing capacity and residual volume did not change immediately upon arrival at high altitude but did increase later during the exposure. These observations are consistent with an abrupt increase in thoracic intravascular fluid volume upon arrival at high altitude followed by a more gradual increase in extravascular fluid volume in the peribronchial spaces of dependent lung regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)670-676
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology Respiratory Environmental and Exercise Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology


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