Summary of Pulmonary changes at high altitude and altitude sickness
At high altitude, barometric pressure decreases and as a result the pressure driving oxygen through alveoli and into circulation also decreases. As a result, people can become hypoxic which causes many problems including increased pulmonary vascular resistance. Chronically, the body adapts and produces 2,3-bisphosphoglyceric acid which helps decrease hemoglobin’s affinity for oxygen which allows more oxygen delivery to oxygen deprived tissues. The kidneys also increase release of erythropoietin to stimulate bone marrow to produce more red blood cells.