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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Brother in trouble



My brother (56) lives in Phoenix and is in lots of medical trouble. My sister and I would like him to move to Colorado so we can help him surmount these issues, but he is on oxygen at 5 lpm in Phoenix, and we wonder if he can get enough air at 5,000 and 8,000 ft where we each live. He weighs 330, has type 2 diabetes, enlarged heart, COPD, and sleep apnea. Thanks for your help.


Thank you for visiting NetWellness and for your question. Your brother has a very difficult problem. When COPD patients ascend to high altitudes, they often report increased symptoms of shortness of breath.

People with COPD who require oxygen therapy at lower altitudes usually require more oxygen at higher altitudes. This is because the partial pressure of oxygen in the air is lower at higher altitudes. This effect can sometimes be overcome with increasing oxygen.

However, your brother has chronic respiratory failure (as evidenced by his need for oxygen therapy) and is requiring a high amount of oxygen currently. A move to high altitude may be very difficult on him.

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Response by:

Michael E Ezzie, MD Michael E Ezzie, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University