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Altitude sickness

Acute mountain sickness (AMS) can affect all of us already at an altitude of 2500 MASL as a result of the reduced amount of oxygen in air. Initial symptoms may progress to life-threatening diseases such as high altitude cerebral or pulmonary edema. Although we can effectively prevent AMS due to proper acclimatization, sometimes AMS can also affect the professional and experienced climbers. Act as a member of the alpine expedition in our algorithm and try to solve this case at different stages of this disease.

Author: Martina Kosinová, MD, Radim Gerstberger, Michal Vondráček

Institution: Faculty of Medicine at Masaryk University in Brno

Medical discipline: Emergency Medicine

Keywords: Acute mountain sickness | High altitude cerebral oedema | acclimatization

Educational evel: Undergraduate level | Graduate

Acute mountain sickness (AMS) can affect all of us already at an altitude of 2500 MASL as a result of the reduced amount of oxygen in air. Initial symptoms may progress to life-threatening diseases such as high altitude cerebral or pulmonary edema. Although we can effectively prevent AMS due to proper acclimatization, sometimes AMS can also affect the professional and experienced climbers.
Act as a member of the alpine expedition in our algorithm and try to solve this case at different stages of this disease.


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Review

Reviewer:

Prof. Pavel Ševčík, MD, CSc., Head of Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Ostrava, Faculty of Medicine University of Ostrava, Ostrava-Poruba, Czech Republic
 

In about last 15 years in western world quickly grew interest in traveling into Asian and South American mountains. Visitors dare to conquer high altitudes, often trying to climb some good accessible and technically not so demanding peaks with height of six or seven thousand meters. Especially by relatively easy ascents the altitude can be gained quickly, and this is very risky for the human body. It is dangerous above all for young and middle-aged well trained people, to whom it is no problem to climb in alpine environments over a thousand meters of altitude in a single day. And this is the biggest stumbling block - the feeling that I can do it, the euphoria of beautiful alpine environment, desire to take advantage of favourable weather, the hope of reaching the dream peak early, drives mountaineers up too quickly. While extraordinary body fitness and good physical form are not synonymous with good ability to rapidly acclimatize for the high altitude. The acclimatization can’t be cheated it can only be gradually completed. The rules for acclimatization in high mountings, including speed, or rather slowness of ascent are well known. However, there are also known too many cases that end badly or even tragically, in their disrespect.

The presented algorithm shows how to proceed, and oppositely how not to proceed when the symptoms of acute mountain sickness and altitude cerebral oedema appears. The topic of algorithm is very interesting and well elaborated. For understanding the topic, with which more and more young and sometimes inexperienced, even if physically fit people come in touch, is the material useful and actual. Congratulations to the young creative team for its composition.

publikováno: 12.4.2016 | last modified on: 16.5.2018