US researchers at the University of
Colorado School of Medicine (UCSM) and the Harvard School of Global Health have found that living at higher altitudes not only reduces
the risk of Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) but also enhances life expectancy.
The research went on for 4-years during which
researchers analyzed the death certificates of people from US. They studied the
cause of death, socio-economic status and other issues. Scientists found
that as compared to people who lived near the sea-level the life-expectancy of
men and women at higher altitudes (about 5,967 feet above sea level) was higher
than 1.2-3.6years and 0.5-2.5years respectively. The study also showed that for
patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) altitudes above
4,900 are detrimental for health.
Lower levels of oxygen and increased solar radiation at altitude could be
the possible reasons for this difference. Due to lower oxygen levels the genes may
produce new blood vessels and change the functioning of the heart muscles. While
increased solar radiation helps to synthesize more vitamin D which has
beneficial effects on the heart. This study is significant as it could help
clinicians come up with new treatments for heart diseases.