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May 1, 2002

High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver (Dr Hackett); Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco; Dr Rennie is Deputy Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2002;287(17):2275-2278. doi:10.1001/jama.287.17.2275

High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is a potentially fatal condition that typically starts after ascent in people ascending too quickly. When first described, HAPE was assumed to be due to acute left ventricular failure, but it has been known for 40 years that HAPE is associated with an excessive hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction and pulmonary hypertension. This by itself cannot be the sole cause, however, because not all individuals who develop pulmonary hypertension develop HAPE at altitude.