Impact of high altitude on cardiovascular health: Current perspectives

Robert T. Mallet, Johannes Burtscher, Jean Paul Richalet, Gregoire P. Millet, Martin Burtscher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Globally, about 400 million people reside at terrestrial altitudes above 1500 m, and more than 100 million lowlanders visit mountainous areas above 2500 m annually. The interactions between the low barometric pressure and partial pressure of O2, climate, individual genetic, lifestyle and socio-economic factors, as well as adaptation and acclimatization processes at high elevations are extremely complex. It is challenging to decipher the effects of these myriad factors on the cardiovascular health in high altitude residents, and even more so in those ascending to high altitudes with or without preexisting diseases. This review aims to interpret epidemiological observations in high-altitude populations; present and discuss cardiovascular responses to acute and subacute high-altitude exposure in general and more specifically in people with preexisting cardiovascular diseases; the relations between cardiovascular pathologies and neurodegenerative diseases at altitude; the effects of high-altitude exercise; and the putative cardioprotective mechanisms of hypobaric hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-335
Number of pages19
JournalVascular Health and Risk Management
StatePublished - 2021


  • Acclimatization
  • Adaptation
  • Conditioning
  • Exercise
  • Hypobaria
  • Hypoxia


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