Case Study Notes: Into Thin Air Part 1

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Valerie Delucca Professor Di Lauro Biology 109- Anatomy and Physiology 6 December 2016 Into Thin Air Part 1: - Mt. Denali, Alaska, 17,660 Feet People tend to experience dizziness, headache, fatigue, shortness of breath,decrease in brain function, headache, dizziness, frostbite, hypothermia, etc. at higher altitudes due to a decrease of atmospheric pressure. Mark experienced a shortness of breath and could not seem to feel better even when he paused his climb to “take a breather.” This is very common for people who are not accustomed to the difference in pressure because of the difference of altitudes. Same goes for Emily who experienced a headache due to a decrease in oxygen in the air and therefore, in her body. The
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As altitude increases, the air pressure decreases from around 1,000 millibars to 500 millibars at around 18,000 feet. This can be very harsh on your body and respiratory system because, at sea level, the pressure outside is higher than it is in the lungs. Your body has to adjust in order to prepare to this shift of pressure for the lungs. A direct pulmonary response to a decrease of air pressure and oxygen entering the body is an increase in heart and breathing rate. The heart needs to pump harder to makeup for the decrease of oxygen. This response results in a lack of oxygen binding to hemoglobin in the blood because red blood cells have a high affinity for binding to oxygen. Less oxygen to enter other cells will cause a decrease in energy leading to the symptoms that both Mark and Emily are experiencing. 2,3-DPG helps decrease the affinity of red blood cells with oxygen. Therefore, oxygen is able to distribute more throughout the body. Also, it will lower heart rate and help with rapid breathing and shortness of breath. Part II- Gasping for Air Acclimation or the …show more content…
After a few weeks, when the kidneys detect a chronically low oxygen level, a hormone called erythropoietin is made. This hormone stimulates RBC production in the bone marrow, which will increase the number of RBC 's and hemoglobin, and therefore, oxygen as well. Part III- Airlift A Gammow bag is essentially a portable hyperbaric chamber which matches the conditions of atmospheric pressure at sea level. The bag would help by giving the body the extra oxygen, wanting to increase blood O2 and thus allowing his body to disperse it to other cells, maintaining homeostasis. I would run a blood test to see how many RBC 's Mark has in order to determine whether his body would be able to survive higher altitudes. Therefore, I would have to check oxygen levels as well along with blood pH. I expect to see levels around that of an individual at sea level because he was not on the mountain long enough to make more RBC 's. Arterial oxygen I would expect to be lower than normal because of the fact he was having difficulty breathing and his body was in need of oxygen. Arterial pH (metabolic) I would expect to be low because a person with metabolic acidosis will hyperventilate due to the carotid/aortic bodies recognizing the

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