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Researchers identify potential risk factors for severe altitude sickness
Date:10/28/2011

tory, usual physical and mountaineering activity and other factors.

Next, study participants went through a routine hypoxic exercise test, which consisted of four, four-minute phases: rest at normal oxygen levels; rest at hypoxic levels; exercise in hypoxia; and exercise in normal levels of oxygen. During the exercise test, the researchers measured heart rate, breathing and blood oxygen levels.

Following their excursions, study participants were asked to complete a questionnaire to determine if they had experienced any symptoms of high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), or swelling of the lung tissue; high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), which refers to swelling of the brain tissue; or severe acute mountain sickness (AMS), which can include a variety of symptoms, including headache, nausea, fatigue and dizziness. Participants were also asked to indicate if they had used ACZ.

Among the 1,326 questionnaire respondents, 318 reported that they had experienced a severe altitude illness during their high-altitude excursion, including 105 who used ACZ and 213 who did not.

Using these results, the researchers were able to identify which factors, reported both before and during the excursions, were associated with SHAI. They were also able to determine the effect of ACZ on the development of SHAI.

"We found that among those who did not use ACZ, factors including young age, female gender, history of migraine, regular physical activity, previous history of severe altitude illness, rapid ascent, HCRe, substantial changes in Sae and HVRe were significantly associated with SHAI," Dr. Richalet said. "Geographically, the area of Ladakh, India, was associated with a higher risk of SHAI among non-ACZ users."

In those respondents who used ACZ preventively, young age, female gender, history of migraine, regular physical activity, HCRe, substantial changes in Sae and the Alps were no longer significantly associated with SHAI, Dr. R
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Contact: Brian Kell
bkell@thoracic.org
212-315-6442
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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