Higher Altitudes Can Mean More Heart Problems 

By Banner Health

Ready to go to up North to play in the new snow? Pack some extra precautions along with your ski poles: heart problems can become more serious in higher altitudes.

And even people who don’t have any cardiac problems can face nausea and increased heart rates when going into higher elevations, says Michael Kim, MD, an interventional cardiologist at North Colorado Medical Center.

Watch Kim discuss higher elevations and your heart (Click to image to play video):

The thin air, which has less oxygen, is harder to breathe and that puts an extra strain on the cardiovascular system, Kim said.

“The most common reaction of your heart to higher altitudes is an increase in heart rate to help maintain cardiac output and maintain oxygen delivery to the tissues,’’ he said.

Kim offers these tips on how to prevent high-altitude sickness from ruining your winter playtime:

  • People should try to acclimate to the area before engaging in very strenuous exercise
  • Understand it may take a couple days to get adjusted for the altitude.
  • Practice “aggressive hydration.’’


About Banner Health

Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 28 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, academic and employed physician groups, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services; including Banner Urgent Care, family clinics, home care and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.BannerHealth.com.