Reduction in mortality from coronary heart disease in men residing at high altitude

N Engl J Med. 1977 Mar 17;296(11):581-5. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197703172961101.


In New Mexico, where inhabited areas vary from 914 to over 2135 m above sea level, we compared age-adjusted mortality rates for arteriosclerotic heart disease for white men and women for the years 1957-1970 in five sets of counties, grouped by altitude in 305-m (1000-foot) increments. The results show a serial decline in mortality from the lowest to the highest altitude for males but not for females. Mortality rates for males residing in the county groups higher than 1220 m in order of ascending altitude were 98, 90, 86 and 72 per cent of that for the county group below 1220-m altitude (P less than 0.0001). The results do not appear to be explained by artifacts in ascertainment, variations in ethnicity or urbanization. A possible explanation of the trend is that adjustment to residence at high altitude is incomplete and daily activities therefore represent greater exercise than when undertaken at lower altitudes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Altitude*
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / mortality*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Mexico
  • Physical Exertion
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Factors
  • Urban Population