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Carbon monoxide studies at high altitude.

In high altitude areas, ambient carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations are rising because of the increasing number of new residents and tourists, and their concomitant use of motor vehicles and heating appliances. There are, however, comparatively few studies of the acute or chronic physiological effects that may be caused by inhaling CO at high altitude. There are data supporting the concept that the effects of breathing CO at high altitude are additive, and data suggesting that the effects may be more than additive. Visual sensitivity and flicker fusion frequency are reduced in humans inhaling CO at high altitude. One provocative study suggests that the increase in coronary capillarity seen with chronic altitude exposure may be blocked by CO. We exposed male, laboratory rats for 6 weeks to 100 ppm CO, 4676 m (15,000 ft) simulated high altitude (SHA), and CO at SHA. SHA increase hematocrit ratio (Hct) and right ventricle weight, but decreased body weight. CO increased Hct and left ventricle weight. Our results indicate that 100 ppm CO does not exacerbate the effects produced by exposure to 4676 m altitude.[1]


  1. Carbon monoxide studies at high altitude. McGrath, J.J. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews. (1988) [Pubmed]
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