High Altitude & Pulmonary Embolism in Military Populations

Research Paper Title

Profile of pulmonary embolism in service personnel posted at high altitude area.

Background

The researchers evaluated the clinical presentation and risk factors of pulmonary embolism (PE) in soldiers posted at high altitude areas (HAA).

Methods

The researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of all cases of PE presented to us between March 2011 and August 2014. The patients were serving at an altitude between 10,000 and 22,000ft above sea level and PE was diagnosed using the pulmonary CT angiography. Screening for the deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and procoagulant conditions was done at presentation and after six months of treatment. The patients were managed as per the American College of Cardiology (ACC) guidelines and descriptive statistics were used to present the data.

Results

The patients, 53 males, had a mean age of 33±4.2 year and were serving at a mean altitude of 12,176±448 feet (ranged between 10,000 and 20,500) at the onset of symptoms. Dyspnea (79%) and tachycardia (68%) were the commonest symptom and sign, respectively. D dimer was positive in 96.2% of the cases while nonspecific T inversion in the ECG was seen in 54.7% of the patients. Procoagulant work up revealed a hereditary thrombophilic condition in 9 out of 53 patients. A total of 44 cases were idiopathic and DVT of lower limb veins was seen in 2 patients. There was no mortality in our case series.

Conclusions

PE is a common complication of HAA and hereditary thrombophilia contributes in a minority of the patients. Further studies are needed to ascertain the risk factors of PE at HAA.

Reference

Dutta, V., Singh, R., Kumar, S., Aggarwal, N. & Hari Kumar, K.V. (2018) Profile of pulmonary embolism in service personnel posted at high altitude area. Indian Heart Journal. 70(3), pp.427-429. doi: 10.1016/j.ihj.2017.08.002. Epub 2017 Aug 18.

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