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This question in some ways is related to this question asked by JollySin.

When I did my first Himalayan trek, my guide there had told me that those with a low blood pressure (BP) are more susceptible to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). The logic according to him was that low BP along with high altitude will result in the blood flow to the brain reducing further and the symptoms of AMS are more likely to occur at an earlier stage in those with a low BP.

Hence, is there a scientific relationship between BP(either low or high) and AMS?

Please try to include references for the answers.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

There is no documented scientific relationship between individual blood pressure and AMS. Furthermore, your guide appears to be completely mis-informed as to the mechanics of AMS. The most common symptom of AMS - a roaring headache - is caused by swelling of the brain as the body attempts to make up for reduced oxygen in the blood by pumping harder and faster (hence an increased heart rate). See: http://www.altitudemedicine.org/index.php/altitude-medicine/learn-about-altitude-sickness

Incidentally, high blood pressure would put one at risk for cardiac arrest, not AMS, when travelling quickly to high altitudes. See: http://www.altituderesearch.org/traveling-to-altitude/113

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The possibility of brain getting less oxygen due to low blood pressure seems possible. Why completely rubbish his claim? If thought from a common sense perspective, it looks feasible that someone with low BP might face symptoms early. I might be wrong. Pardon me if I am. –  Unsung Dec 20 '13 at 17:55
I appreciate the common sense aspect of it - I get it - but you asked if there was a scientific relationship between BP and AMS. I dispute the possibility that low blood pressure makes one more susceptible to AMS because the key factor is the oxygen saturation level in the blood, which is not related to blood pressure. –  Andrew Dec 22 '13 at 23:21
@Andrew: ...because the key factor is the oxygen saturation level in the blood, which is not related to blood pressure. This statement of yours, Do you think that Human Cardiovascular system is so simple and straight forward to understand? –  WedaPashi Jan 7 '14 at 6:01

I would think not. AMS is caused by lower atmospheric pressure which in turn reduces the number of O2 molecules you get to breathe in. Your own personal blood pressure has nothing to do with the number of O2 molecules available to breathe.

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I have somewhat low blood pressure, 106/72, and I had altitude sickness fairly quickly when traveling to Banff and Lake Louise. I thought the low pressure added to the problem because if the amount of oxygen you are breathing in, is less than normal, and your blood pressure is lower, then less oxygen is getting to your brain. Makes sense to me.Symptoms of hypoxia are similar to Altitude sickness.

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