Background-High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is characterized by pulmonary hypertension, increased pulmonary capillary permeability, and hypoxemia. Treatment is limited to descent to lower altitude and administration of oxygen. Methods and Results-We studied the acute effects of inhaled nitric oxide (NO), 50% oxygen, and a mixture of NO plus 50% oxygen on hemodynamics and gas exchange in 14 patients with HAPE. Each gas mixture was given in random order for 30 minutes followed by 30 minutes washout with room air. All patients had severe HAPE as judged by Lake Louise score (6.4±0.7), Pao2 (35±3.1 mmHg), and alveolar to arterial oxygen tension difference (AaDo2) (26±3 mm Hg). NO had a selective effect on the pulmonary vasculature and did not alter systemic hemodynamics. Compared with room air, pulmonary vascular resistance fell 36% with NO (P<0.001), 23% with oxygen (P<0.001 versus air, P<0.05 versus NO alone), and 54% with NO plus 50% oxygen (P<0.001 versus air, P<0.005 versus oxygen and versus NO). NO alone improved Pao2 (+ 14%) and AaDo2 (-31%). Compared with 50% oxygen alone, NO plus 50% oxygen had a greater effect on AaDo2 (- 18%) and Pao2 (+21%). Conclusions- Inhaled NO may have a therapeutic role in the management of HAPE. The combined use of inhaled NO and oxygen has additive effects on pulmonary hemodynamics and even greater effects on gas exchange. These findings indicate that oxygen and NO may act on separate but interactive mechanisms in the pulmonary vasculature.
- Nitric oxide
- Pulmonary heart disease