Thursday August 16, 2018

Why Heart Function is Reduced at High Altitude Decoded

The findings will be important for people who live, travel and exercise at high altitudes

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Why Heart Function is Reduced at High Altitude Decoded
Why Heart Function is Reduced at High Altitude Decoded. Pixabay
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Low amount of oxygen at moutain peaks decreases the volume of blood circulating around the body, and increases blood pressure in the lungs, resulting in reduced heart function at high altitudes, say researchers.

However, the researchers also found that while both these factors impact blood flow, it surprisingly does not impact the body’s ability to exercise to its fullest extent.

The findings will be important for people who live, travel and exercise at high altitudes.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The research improves our understanding of how the human body adapts to high altitude areas and will help us make exploration and tourism of Earth’s mountainous regions safer, and may also help facilitate exercise performance in a wide range of sporting events that take place at high altitude, said researchers led by Michael Stembridge, from the Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales, Britain

“We hope to apply the findings of this work to help improve the health and well-being of these populations by furthering our understanding of the condition and exploring therapeutic targets,” he said.

Also Read: Get Married to Have Better Bones!

Many people who visit high altitudes suffer from “Chronic Mountain Sickness”, which occurs when there is lower oxygen pressure present. It results in shortness of breath, headache, and a fast heartbeat.

For the research, published in The Journal of Physiology, the team collected data of a small group on how the heart and pulmonary blood vessels adapt to life with less oxygen.

The researchers and participants conducted the study during two weeks at a remote research facility in California.

Furthermore, echocardiography was used to assess cardiac and pulmonary vascular function which is non-invasive and indirect. (IANS)

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Air Pollution Linked to Changes in Heart Structure

Higher exposures to the pollutants were linked to more significant changes in the structure of the heart, the findings showed

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Air Pollution.
Air pollution may lead to changes in heart structure. Pixabay

Researchers have found that people exposed to even low levels of air pollution can have changes in the structure of the heart, similar to those seen in the early stages of heart failure.

For every one extra microgram per cubic metre of PM2.5 — small particles of air pollution — and for every 10 extra microgram per cubic metre of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the heart enlarges by approximately 1 per cent, showed the findings of the Britain-based study published in the journal Circulation.

“Although our study was observational and hasn’t yet shown a causal link, we saw significant changes in the heart, even at relatively low levels of air pollution exposure,” said one of the researchers Nay Aung from Queen Mary University of London.

For the study, the researchers looked at data from around 4,000 participants in the UK Biobank study, where volunteers provided a range of personal information, including their lifestyles, health record and details on where they have lived.

Higher exposures to the pollutants were linked to more significant changes in the structure of the heart,
Higher exposures to the pollutants were linked to more significant changes in the structure of the heart. Pixabay

Participants also had blood tests and health scans, and heart MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) was used to measure the size, weight and function of the participants’ hearts at fixed times.

The team found a clear association between those who lived near loud, busy roads, and were exposed to nitrogen dioxide or PM2.5 and the development of larger right and left ventricles in the heart.

Also Read: Air Pollution Linked to 3.2 Million New Diabetes Cases in One Year

The ventricles are important pumping chambers in the heart and, although these participants were healthy and had no symptoms, similar heart remodelling is seen in the early stages of heart failure.

Higher exposures to the pollutants were linked to more significant changes in the structure of the heart, the findings showed. (IANS)