Mean transthoracic electrical impedance (impedance) which is inversely related to intrathoracic extravascular fluid volume was measured in 121 normal healthy volunteers at sea-level and at 3658 metres altitude. Fifty (group A) reached the high altitude location after an hour's journey in a pressurised aircraft. Twenty-five (group D) underwent slow road ascent including acclimatisation en route. Thirty permanent residents (group B) and 16 temporary residents at high altitude (group C) were also studied. Serial studies in the 30 subjects of group A who developed symptoms of high altidue sickness showed a significant decrease of impedance up to the fourth day of exposure to high altitude which later returned to normal. The 4 volunteers who developed severe symptoms showed the largest drop in impedance. A case of acute pulmonary oedema developing at 4300 metres showed an impedance value of 24-1 ohms on admission. After effective treatment the impedance increased by 11-9 to 36-0 ohms. Twenty asymptomatic subjects of group A and 25 of group D showed a small average increase in impedance values at high altitude. These obstructions suggest that measurement of transthoracic electrical impedance may be a valuable means of detecting incipient high altitude pulmonary oedema.
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