How Altitude Affects People with Congenital Heart Disease

Posted on March 15, 2019

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There have been several studies on how high altitude can affect the average person. Not only does it lead to less oxygen flow through the system, it also constricts blood vessels and makes the heart and lungs work a little harder. However, many have lived in high-altitude climates for generations. While there are things, we know about living in high altitude, studies are constantly being done to understand the effects of high altitude on those with different ailments. Among those ailments is congenital heart disease. If you suffer from congenital heart disease and you aren’t sure how high altitude can affect you, check out these three things that you need to know according to Peconic Bay Medical Center’s cardiology specialists in Suffolk County, NY.

You Can Become More Susceptible to the Altitude

Altitude can cause issues with even the healthiest bodies. Because of the lack of oxygen, it makes your body work harder to get the oxygen that you need. If you have congenital heart disease, you know that your heart is already working harder to get the oxygen moving to different parts of your body. That means that, in higher altitudes, your body is working even harder than that. If you plan on visiting high altitudes or moving to a higher-altitude climate, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor about the different ways altitude might affect you and how you can work toward protecting your heart while you’re in higher altitudes.

Altitude Puts More Pressure on the Heart

Higher altitude climates have a tendency to put more pressure on your heart. Even more so if you suffer from congenital heart disease. Remember that your heart works harder when you have congenital heart disease and the high altitude adds to that. That means that you have to make sure that you don’t participate in a lot of strenuous activity while you’re in the higher-altitude climate. Doing so can cause even more issues for your heart.

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Less Oxygen Can Be Dangerous

The lack of oxygen in higher altitudes can change the way your body works. Your lungs tend to work harder to get you enough oxygen and this makes your heart work harder as well. This lack of oxygen can be dangerous if you have congenital heart disease. Make sure you contact your doctor about the medications that you’re taking and ask if the side effects will change if you are in higher altitudes.

When it comes to traveling to or living in higher altitudes, there are a lot of things to learn. If you have congenital heart disease, you should consider talking to your doctor about the proper changes you should make to help you maintain your health while you’re in higher altitudes. If you have more questions, contact Peconic Bay Medical Center. They can connect you with a cardiologist in Suffolk County, NY, who can help explain how higher altitudes affect you specifically. Request an appointment by calling (631) 548-6000.

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