BI2024 Human Anatomy and Physiology : Physiological Problems

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BI2024 Human Anatomy and Physiology

Question

Part I – Mt. Denali, Alaska, 17,660 Feet

The winded climbers slowly ascended the icy cliff in the near darkness of 4 a.m., carefully avoiding the steep crevasses that fell off sharply to either side. Several times each hour, Tom Benman, lead climber and expedition frontman, would call out “Everyone okay?” They had stopped replying long ago, too exhausted by the supreme effort of simply placing each foot in the proper direction. Three hours into a 12+ hour climbing day, the silence was permeated only by labored breathing and the crunch of ice under crampons.

Emily Norman, a Registered Nurse and the only woman on the six-person expedition team, was third in line, following her friend Mark McKinley, the least experienced climber of the group. For the last couple of days, Mark had been coughing heavily, and all morning had been slowing up, causing a backlog behind them and prompting several “everyone okay”‘s from Tom. Knowing Mark’s competitive spirit, Emily was hesitant to urge him to pick up the pace, and when he pulled up to rest on a protected ledge, Emily motioned to the other climbers to pass on by. Her head was pounding anyway, and she rationalized she could use the break.

You okay?” Emily asked.

Yeah….I just….can’t seem to….catch my breath,” gasped Mark.

Just rest a minute. There’s no rush, Mark. Take your time….slow, deep breaths.”

Tom appeared from the upper trail. “What’s up?”

Mark’s having a little trouble catching his breath.” Emily was getting worried.

Tom looked sharply at her. “How much trouble?”

Quite a bit, I think. Emily looked over at Mark, whose breathing didn’t appear eased by the

rest stop, and then back at Tom. “I think we should get him down to a lower altitude. Quickly.”

Tom nodded. “I’ll get the others.”Into Thin Air”

A Case Study in

Physiology

by

Jennifer Lundmark

Department of Biological Sciences

California State University,

Sacramento 

1. What types of physiological problems do humans encounter at high altitudes?

2. What symptoms did the climbers exhibit that might be related to altitude? Explain.

3. Compare the air at 18,000 feet (atmospheric pressure 280 mm Hg) to the air at sea level (760 mm Hg). What specific changes in the primary atmospheric gases (nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide) might occur? Are they significant?

4. What is the specific pulmonary response to high altitude? [Assume you are considering a subject at rest.]

5. How will this response affect overall blood gases? What about oxygen loading an unloading from hemoglobin? Explain how you arrived at your conclusions.

6. After breathing at altitude for a few days, the body normally begins producing more 2,3- DPG. What is the significance of this change? How will it affect the pulmonary changes observed?

BI2024 Human Anatomy and Physiology

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Tellus molestie nunc non blandit massa enim nec dui. Tellus molestie nunc non blandit massa enim nec dui. Ac tortor vitae purus faucibus ornare suspendisse sed nisi. Pharetra et ultrices neque ornare aenean euismod. Pretium viverra suspendisse potenti nullam ac tortor vitae. Morbi quis commodo odio aenean sed. At consectetur lorem donec massa sapien faucibus et. Nisi quis eleifend quam adipiscing vitae proin sagittis nisl rhoncus. Duis at tellus at urna condimentum mattis pellentesque. Vivamus at augue eget arcu dictum varius duis at. Justo donec enim diam vulputate ut. Blandit libero volutpat sed cras ornare arcu. Ac felis donec et odio pellentesque diam volutpat commodo. Convallis a cras semper auctor neque. Tempus iaculis urna id volutpat lacus. Tortor consequat id porta nibh.

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