HAPE: The Leading High Altitude Killer

Grant Reeves | ClimbingClimbing | BrainsBrains

HAPE: High Altitude Pulmonary Edema

High elevation climbing Image: escapemedic.com

HAPE: Is fluid accumulation in the lungs that typically occurs above 8,200 feet. Most reports show that high altitude deaths come from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). As it has a lot of similar symptoms to (HAPE) such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath (AMS) is not the killer. It can lead to bigger issues, (HAPE) and (HACE). High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) is when the brain starts to swell with fluid. Both are not very common but can be deadly if not dealt with in a timely matter.

                                                   Visible fluid in the lungs (HAPE) Image: American Heart Association

HAPE can happen to anyone! ​It usually occurs in young, fit climbers or trekkers looking for high elevation skiing/snowboarding. (HAPE) will most often occur at night and the second day after an ascent. If you are feeling shortness of breath when lying down, cold clammy hands, blue tinged lips or irregular heartbeat you should get to lower elevation as soon as possible before it can become tragic. Though if you pick up on (HAPE) quickly it typically takes two or three days to get better once your at lower elevation with the proper care.

                                                          Friends climbing at high elevation together. Image: scouting.org

This is another reason to always use the buddy system when going out on High Altitude adventures. Keep your friends and yourself safe!

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