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Old Jan 20th 2016, 02:53 AM   #1
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Elevation effects on Blood & CSF pressure??

I would like to ask a few questions about fluid pressure dynamics.

In a closed system, would a higher altitude increase or decrease the pressure of the fluid in the system?
If you had 2 different systems of fluid at the higher elevation how would the density of the fluid affect the pressure change?

In case you are wondering. The systems that I am referring too are in your body. One system would be the blood system and blood pressure, the other system is the CSF (cerebrial spinal fluid) system which surrounds the spine and the brain.

This question is related to a medical condition that my wife has. At low elevations she is worse, at higher elevations she is better. She has something called POTS. And she has low CSF pressure normally. My theory is that just as higher elevation pushes up blood pressure it also would push up CSF pressure since they are both closed loop systems. I don't know how or where the fact that it is soft body tissue comes into play.

Anyway I was just wanting to get your thoughts on this subject. Thanks
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Old Jan 20th 2016, 04:43 AM   #2
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Intriguing

Hyperbaric Medical Therapies (increased oxygen at modestly increased pressure) are becoming quite common,
However a quick Google of Hypobaric Medical Therapies (reduced pressure) came up blank.

I am guessing you are basing your idea on anecdotal observations,
the problem with anecdotal evidence can be the interference from other issues
for example, if you are on holiday when at higher altitudes, people feel better when on holiday...
Still it might be an avenue worth pursuing, if you can get access to a pressure chamber, particularly if the effects last for a while after reverting to normal altitudes.
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Old Jan 20th 2016, 07:44 AM   #3
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You asked this in a physics forum, but it's really more of a medical question. I can say that from a physics point of view the effect of outside pressure on inside pressure has very much to do with the nature of the container. Consider for example a submarine with a rigid hull - it maintains atmospheric pressure for the people inside even as it descends to great depths with pressures many times atmospheric. But a balloon with flexible walls expands under lower outside pressure, thus reducing the internal pressure. Both of these are examples of "closed" systems, at least from the point of view of exchange of fluid or gas from inside to outside. But the human body is not a closed system - we breathe air, and our bodies need oxygen, so our internal systems are very much effected by the external pressure. At higher altitudes where the density of oxygen is much less so we have to breather harder, and the heart has to pump harder in order to get the appropriate amount of oxygen to the cells. Because the heart as to work harder it's common for one's blood pressure to be higher at high altitudes - even though the density of dissolved gasses in the blood stream is less. I have no idea what effect lower atmospheric pressure has on CSF pressure - though I would guess it has very little effect, because as I understand it CSF serves as protection for the spinal cord, not as a system for delivering oxygen.
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