Pleasure hiking: Critical height limit for the heart – cardiologist: “Acid-base balance gets mixed up”

Pleasure hiking: Critical height limit for the heart - cardiologist: "Acid-base balance gets mixed up"

In addition to the heat, high altitude can also put stress on the body. A cardiologist explains the background and knows the critical height limit.

Altitude can become a problem more quickly than many vacationers and day trippers think – not only when hiking in the mountains, but also, for example, on cultural trips to high-altitude regions. Professor Thomas Meinertz, cardiologist and expert at the German Heart Foundation, warns of this. Thorough preparation for the holiday is therefore the be-all and end-all, especially for heart patients. The Heart Foundation has also put together an information pack that can be ordered by calling 069 955128-400.

Cardiac specialist Professor Meinertz: Stay well below 2500 meters during intense exertion

According to Meinertz, a height of 2,500 meters is the critical limit for light physical activity, but for intensive exertion (mountain ascent) it is significantly lower (for comparison: the Zugspitze is 2,962 meters high, the Klein-Matterhorn near Zermatt, which can also be reached by cable car 3,883 meters and the Bolivian capital La Paz is at 3,869 meters).

The more intensive breathing upsets the acid-base balance

As the altitude increases, the air gets thinner and less oxygen gets into the arteries. This increases the heart rate. The high heart rate can be extremely stressful, especially for people with cardiac insufficiency. At the same time, more CO2 is exhaled due to more intensive breathing, which upsets the acid-base balance in the blood. Slow acclimatization can in turn have a positive effect on this.

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Expert of the Heart Foundation: Even cold can be problematic for heart patients

Extreme climates can also be particularly harmful to these patients. “Therefore, high altitudes and tropical and arctic regions of the world are not recommended for heart patients. The climate there simply puts too much strain on the cardiovascular system,” emphasizes Professor Dr. Thomas Meinertz, former Chairman of the Heart Foundation and Editor-in-Chief of the Heart Foundation magazine “Herz heute”. It makes more sense to travel to a holiday destination with a familiar climate. The renowned cardiologist and pharmacologist suggests autumn and spring as the best time to travel for heart patients.

Diet on holiday can change the effect of heart medication such as Marcumar

Another tip: If you are taking medication for a cardiovascular disease, you should keep an eye on your diet on holiday. Affected are, for example, patients who have to take the anticoagulant drug Marcumar due to atrial fibrillation or an artificial heart valve. Fatty foods and many foods with a high vitamin K content (e.g. spinach, onions, garlic, chard or lentils) can affect the effect of Marcumar. Therefore, these patients should check their blood coagulation values ​​at shorter intervals, advises the German Heart Foundation.


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