Scientists Discover Reason behind Decline in Blood Flow at High Altitude

It is a well-known fact that high altitude decreases the amount of blood that the heart pumps in the body with every beat. A new research studying the blood flow in high altitudes, published in The Journal of Physiology, has revealed the reason behind this and the findings will be of major importance for people who stay, travel, or exercise at high altitudes. Of late, a number of theories have been offered to reason the decline in the amount of blood pumped by the heart at high altitude. Even the scientists engaged in the first summit of Mount Everest were working towards finding out the factors that trigger low blood flow.

Now, it has been discovered that this happens because of the rarity of oxygen in the air at high altitudes, i.e. more than 3000 m, which results in a decline in the volume of the blood circulating in the body and a rise in the blood pressure (BP) in the lungs. A team of scientists has found out that both these factors play a crucial role in the reduction of the volume of blood pumped by the heart with every beat. However, none of these factors impact the ability to perform exercise.

This research study was conducted by a team of researchers of Cardiff Metropolitan University, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, and the University of British Columbia Okanagan. The researchers and participants collected data on how the heart and various pulmonary blood vessels adjust to life with less amount of oxygen. They carried out this study at a remote research facility, The Barcroft Laboratory at White Mountain, California.