Chronic mountain sickness in tibet

S. X. Pei, X. J. Chen, B. Z. Si Ren, Y. H. Liu, X. S. Cheng, E. M. Harris, I. S. Anand, P. C. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


A clinical syndrome identical to the chronic mountain sickness of the Andes occurs commonly in Lhasa, Tibet. It affects, almost exclusively, the immigrant Han population and develops after an average of 15 years’ residence at high altitude. The early symptoms are attributable to polycythaemia – headache, dizziness, loss of memory and fatigue being prominent. In the later stages of the disease, dyspnoea and peripheral oedema develop. Haemodynamic investigations show pulmonary hypertension with a normal cardiac output and dilatation of the right ventricle in the long-established case. Respiratory gas studies provide evidence of alveolar underventilation and ventilation: perfusion inbomogeneity. Both clinical and investigatory data suggest that the earlier stages of the disease are dominated by polycythaemia, while cardiopulmonary involvement increases with the duration of the disease. The disease is rare in women and uncommon in Tibetans. Cigarette smoking appears to be a contributory factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-574
Number of pages20
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1989

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
From the Workers' Hospital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, Lhasa, Tibet, and * Cardiovascular Institute and Fu Wai Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, People's Republic of China, the ^Department of Cardiology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, and the %National Heart and Lung Institute, London


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