Effects of High Altitude on Adult Cardiovascular and Respiratory Health

We have been invited to contribute to a research project this summer assessing the health of adult males living at high altitude in La Paz, Bolivia. The research project run through the Altitude Research Center at the University of Colorado aims to determine if babies affected by intrauterine growth restriction are at greater risk of health problems in adulthood. We hypothesize that low birth weight and other pregnancy complications affect heart and/or lung development. This, in combination with living at high altitude, causes excessive erythrocytosis (increased production of red blood cells), which may contribute to adult cardiovascular disease.

The research project will investigate the relationship between birth weight, hemoglobin levels, and heart and lung function among males aged 18-25 living in La Paz, Bolivia (elevation 12,008 feet). After recruiting 1500 men to complete a preliminary survey, we will select up to 150 individuals to participate in the full research study. During the study, we will interview our subjects and perform hematological and respiratory tests. Participants will be given an echocardiograph and be monitored overnight for sleep disturbances.

Additionally, a small chart review of the subjects’ medical records from birth will be done to determine their birth weight, gestational age, and any pregnancy complications. We will be asking the mothers of the participants to complete an interview, and any complications the subject or his mother had during delivery will be recorded.

Most of the research for this project will be coordinated via researchers at the Altitude Research Center on campus and the data collection should be completed by spring 2010.

Anne Ladenburger, MS 2 - Anne.Ladenburger@ucdenver.edu
Lindsay Reardon, MS 2 - Lindsay.Reardon@ucdenver.edu

Mentor: Vaughn Brown, MD, PhD