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November 12, 1927


JAMA. 1927;89(20):1695-1696. doi:10.1001/jama.1927.02690200047018

Altitude has been defined by Schneider1 as a climatic condition that causes physiologic changes which affect our bodily comforts. Among its variables are lowered atmospheric pressure, partial pressure of oxygen, temperature and humidity, and increased intensity of sunshine and electrical conditions. While in the past the effects of altitude have been attributed to one or more of these variables, it is today recognized, as Schneider reminds us, that the controlling element in the physiologic reactions is the diminished partial pressure of oxygen and the consequent imperfect aeration of the arterial blood. The theory that oxygen want is the essential cause of the malaise experienced under conditions of lowered barometric pressure was experimentally supported by the French physiologist Paul Bert half a century ago;2 but it did not win the universal acceptance it now enjoys without prolonged controversy. The current view has recently been summarized in the statement that