What is it about?

High altitude low oxygen experts define COVID-19 as a lung destructive disease or "Pneumolysis" (pneumo = lung; lysis = destruction). Lungs allow the intake of oxygen from the environment to the blood and subsequently to all cells of the body. Simultaneously, carbon dioxide is ventilated and expelled from the body. After the lung attack by CoV-2, it can invade circulation and give rise to multiple diseases. However, it is essentially the low oxygen and accumulating dangerous carbon dioxide that lead to death. According to our high altitude experience, the capacity to tolerate low oxygen levels depends on the number of red blood cells (the capacity of oxygen transport) and low carbon dioxide in the blood.

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Why is it important?

High altitude medicine know-how allows for an adequate understanding of how COVID-19 works. Appropriate interpretation of this disease is fundamental to find pragmatic solutions and potential treatments, while immunity responds. We present a different approach to critical hypoxia and the alternative management strategies, as prompt use of non-invasive oxygen therapy (in the friable lung), along with the administration of Erythropoietin, anti-inflammatories, and antiplatelet drugs. The idea is to avoid the progressive inflammatory lung damage giving rise to critical hypoxia as if the patient was suddenly placed on the summit of Mt. Everest. Insufficient red blood cells and too much carbon dioxide lead to death.

Perspectives

As world-renowned physicians living at 3,500m, we want to change the fear of low oxygen management because it is not adequately understood in the current medical literature. COVID-19 gave us a unique opportunity to show how our 50 years of living, working, and doing research at high altitude can be beneficial for the survival of lowlanders. We are used to dealing with hypoxia from a different perspective. It is amazing how low oxygen can be tolerated when it is well managed. Although sudden low blood oxygen can be deleterious, persistent adaptation to it can be beneficial as a biological survival tool on planet Earth, and even beyond in space through BioSpaceForming.

Gustavo Zubieta-Calleja
High Altitude Pulmonary and Pathology Institute

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This page is a summary of: COVID-19 and Pneumolysis Simulating Extreme High-altitude Exposure with Altered Oxygen Transport Physiology; Multiple Diseases, and Scarce Need of Ventilators: Andean Condor's-eye-view, Reviews on Recent Clinical Trials, January 2021, Bentham Science Publishers, DOI: 10.2174/1574887115666200925141108.
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