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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Living in High Altitude City with COPD

07/12/2010

Question:

I have been diagnosed with moderate to severe COPD. I am currently working, but want to retire (68 years old) and move to Longmont, Colorado to be with family. Would this be feasible?

Answer:

Moving to high altitude raises some concerns when dealing with severe COPD. It would be important to determine what your oxygen levels are normally as this would have some impact on your decision. For example, it might be necessary to use supplemental oxygen during exertion or at night during sleep.

There are no clear cut guidelines regarding this decision. However, there are several reports that link high altitude with an increase in mortality. What is not known is whether supplemental oxygen use can change that relationship. It would be advisable to discuss these concerns with your physician before making this decision.

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Response by:

Mark D Wewers, MD Mark D Wewers, MD
Professor of Pulmonology, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics
Environmental Health Sciences
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University