High Life pp 194-227 | Cite as

Permanent Residents of High Altitude

  • John B. West


This Chapter is concerned with permanent residents of high altitude where typically residence has been for many generations. Colloquially the term “highlanders” is often used partly because the term “high-altitude native” has a negative connotation in some quarters. It is sometimes assumed that lowlanders who go to high altitude and acclimatize there have the same characteristics of high-altitude physiology and medicine as highlanders. However, there is considerable evidence against this. For example, some of the Spanish conquerors of Peru lived at the same altitude as the permanent residents for many years and presumably developed a considerable degree of acclimatization. However, as we shall see, patterns of fertility and reproduction were very different between the acclimatized lowlanders and the highlanders. It is likely that permanent residents of high altitude have developed a true genetic adaptation to high altitude over generations with features that, though similar in some respects to acclimatization, are in fact different.


High Altitude Permanent Resident Hypoxic Pulmonary Vasoconstriction Hypoxic Ventilatory Response Chronic Mountain Sickness 
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  1. Monge M., C. Acclimatization in the Andes: Historical Confirmations of “Climatic Aggression” in the Development of Andean Man. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1948.Google Scholar
  2. Dill, D. B. Life, Heat, and Altitude: Physiological Effects of Hot Climates and Great Heights. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938.This has information on the 1935 International High-Altitude Expedition to Cerro de Pasco, Peru.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© American Physiological Society 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • John B. West
    • 1
  1. 1.La JollaUSA

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