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March 21, 1977

High Altitude Illness

JAMA. 1977;237(12):1199. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270390015005

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To the Editor.—  I wish to add to the observations and advice that Dr Houston provided in his excellent review on high altitude illness.I am a physician and investigator who has had many long stays at 4,000 m observing many people acclimatize, some more than once. I have made no scientific studies of high altitude illness, but my repeated bouts with high altitude pulmonary edema have made me an interested observer.In my experience, susceptibility to high altitude illness, while widely variable among people, is constant for any person. If I am correct about inherent susceptibility, perhaps this difference with Dr Houston may be explained by either slightly lower altitudes or by greater caution on the part of the susceptible individual as regards physical activity and rate of ascent. At high altitudes, small differences in altitude seem to have large effects. Also, activity seems to precipitate acute high altitude