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PVCs and Altitude
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PVCs and Altitude

I recently went to Colorado for a vacation.  I was very curious what affect higher altitude would have on my PVCs.  I was staying in an area at 6,200 ft and also planned a trip to Pike's Peak @ 14,110 ft.  I've lived near sea level my entire life.

Overall my PVCs were reduced during the vacation.  My PVCs come and go so I don't know if it was related to the change in altitude.  I felt only 3 the entire 6 day trip.  

My trip up to Pike's Peak was via the Cogged Railway.  Not sure if I could have hiked that...  Anyways, no PVCs at 14,000 ft.  I was a bit light headed at times.  My heart rate didn't increase as I suspected it might, which is odd.

I also hiked and did some mild rock climbing at the Garden of the Gods which is at 7,000 ft.  Physically I felt fine even with the exercise.  

Overall it was a fantastic vacation.  Colorado is a beautiful state.  Don't let altitude hold you back!!

Upon my return to home, my PVCs are back.  I felt quite a few today.  The moment I got off the plane they were back.
10 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_f_tn
Interesting that you experienced fewer PVCs at altitude.  My heart--PVC-prone on the best of days--goes nuts the first night or two at higher elevations.  Even my husband, who generally has few or no PVCs at sea level, has the same experience up in the mountains, at least for a day or two.

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1124887_tn?1313758491
Good to hear that you enjoyed your vacation!

Personally, I believe this happened because you had some nice days away from home and work. If your heart rate had been increased, that could explain it, but from your post, it was not.

PVCs are strange. I'm not very familiar with them, it seems like PACs are more straight forward and occur with (or right after) major stress and anxiety. With PVCs, I can only say what family members experience, and they can occur in thousands (and even during sleep) with the feeling of uncertainty, exhaustion, depression, etc.

Your lungs and heart should keep the oxygen saturation at 95-100% at all times, at high altitude we compensate with slightly deeper breathing, so that shouldn't be the cause. And, if oxygen is the cause, it's lack of oxygen (ischemia) that is causing PVCs through irritating the heart muscle.

So, I'm afraid I don't have a good answer, but during vacations, my heart is behaving nicer too. It's great to get a break from daily life and work.
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612551_tn?1247839157
Great, love Colorado and will be there myself later this week.  I grew up in Denver/Englewood and left to go in the Navy after high school.  I have lived near sea level most of the many years since (Seattle and NJ).

I don't see any real sensitivity to the altitude in my AFib condition... for comparison.  But, last September when I was in Denver for 5 days (5,000 feet +) and a day in Fairplay (7,000 feet +) with some light hiking I noticed the usual difficulty going up hill, suspect it was a bit harder due to altitude, but not so much that I noticed the difference.  I did most of my walking along a trout stream with a gradual grade.  Fairplay was my favorite trout fishing area when I was in high school

But, when I returned to NJ I had an ongoing plugged ear and finally went to the doctor (nurse practitioner) who cleared a large chunk of "gluck" out of the ear.  I don't know how altitude could cause that, but that is off topic.

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967168_tn?1343732745
that's wonderful; I may have to put that theory to test since lately my heart has been naughty and rebellious...living in FL I think may have something to do with it and we've been talking about taking a vacation to somewhere cooler...I'll have to take notes and update if I notice a difference

glad your vacation was a great one
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995271_tn?1408549100
Isn't it weird that we had opposite experience?  These PVCs are impossible to figure out.
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995271_tn?1408549100
My experience sure wasn't what I expected.  I had myself a bit worried over how my heart would react.  It didn't react how I thought it would.  The only thing I learned is that a little bit of knowledge (in my case) is a dangerous thing sometimes...  It's made me loosen up a bit and I'm trying to stop controlling every little bit of my life.  
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995271_tn?1408549100
I didn't know you were from CO!!  It's like living in a painting, to me anyways.

I really notice the altitude.  I feel a bit short of breath on exertion at first.  At about the 4th day I was playing basketball and though I still wasn't quite myself it was doable.
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995271_tn?1408549100
Hi Mom2four85, haven't seen you in a while.  Glad to see you're still around and OK.
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967168_tn?1343732745
thanks =)  we've been moving which took a major toll on my health so it's been a long 6 mth recovery of 3 steps forward 2 back...

I would love a vacation and saw your post about CO.  I lived a few years when I was young at the Air Force base and remember Pike's Peak fondly and what I wouldn't give for some cooler air right now...
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Avatar_m_tn
     The only thing I could think of that might explain why you had less PVC's at altitude would be the hemoglobin affect. I know people who live at altitude have higher hemoglobin concentrations in their blood, but I don't know if there would be any immediate changes for 1 week at altitude. If there were any, then having more oxygen rich blood going through your heart (due to the higher hemoglobin count) might have calmed down the irritable spot in your ventricle. Remember, in ischemia people develop frequent PVC's. You obviously don't have ischemia, but perhaps getting an extra boost of oxygen rich blood in your heart had a soothing affect on irritable cardiac muscle.
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