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March 21, 1977

High Altitude Illness

JAMA. 1977;237(12):1199. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270390015004

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To the Editor.—  In response to Dr Charles S. Houston's article entitled "High Altitude Illness: Disease with Protean Manifestations" (236:2193, 1976), may I say that I was fascinated by this phenomenon during the six years I served as director of the Methodist Hospital in La Paz, Bolivia (elevation 3,750 m).It was common to see patients with acute gastrointestinal mesenteric edema, cerebral edema, pulmonary edema, or a combination of the three. My own personal experience was limited to an inability to sleep well for about one week after arrival in the altitude. Several of the US Embassy and US AID personnel, as well as some of the missionaries stationed in La Paz, experienced repeated episodes of pulmonary edema each time they returned to La Paz from a lower altitude. Interestingly, it was a common problem among children during their adolescent years, even though several of them had been born in