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Chronic kidney disease at high altitude

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2008 Dec;19(12):2262-71. Epub 2008 Oct 8

With a prevalence of 10 to 11% in the general population, it is likely that many patients with chronic kidney disease will visit or reside in mountainous areas. Little is known, however, about whether short- or long-duration, high-altitude exposure poses a risk in this patient population. Given that many areas of the kidney are marginally oxygenated even at sea level and that kidney disease may result in further renal hypoxia and hypoxia-associated renal injury, there is concern that high altitude may accelerate the progression of chronic kidney disease. In this review, we address how chronic kidney disease and its management is affected at high altitude. We postulate that arterial hypoxemia at high altitude poses a risk of faster disease progression in those with preexisting kidney disease. In addition, we consider the risks of developing acute altitude illness in patients with chronic kidney disease and the appropriate use of medications for the prevention and treatment of these problems.


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