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J Korean Soc Emerg Med > Volume 15(6); 2004 > Article
Journal of The Korean Society of Emergency Medicine 2004;15(6): 512-522.
A Clinical Review of Acute Mountain Sickness
Jun Seok Seo, Jae Myung Chung, Jeong Ho Lee, Sin Youl Park, Hyun Wook Ryoo, Kyung Woo Lee, Yun Jeong Kim, Noh Han Park, Jeong Sik Lee, Kang Suk Seo, Jeong Bae Park, Hui Joong Lee
Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea. jaechung@knu.ac.kr
Rapid ascent from low to high altitude (above 2500 m) often causes acute mountain sickness (AMS), a symptom-complex characterized by headache and other systemic symptoms (gastrointestinal upset, weakness, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping). In this study, we observed the vital signs and AMS symptoms. 13 participants in a mountain climb in order to determine correlation between AMS and risk factors such as obesity, smoking, and a previous history of AMS.
We studied 13 participants who climbed Mt.Cholatse (6440 m), and measured their vital signs and symptoms during the trekking. Standard Lake Louise questionnaires were filled out at five times during the trek: at the sea level, 2700 m, 3440 m, 4040 m, and 4700 m. With AMS scores and severity grades, we evaluate the severity of symptoms and the physical status.
The overall AMS score was 3.7+/-.5, and headache was the most frequent symptom. As the altitude increased, oxygen saturation decreased whereas other vital signs (blood pressure, respiratory rate, and pulse rate) increased. The average AMS scores and severity grades increased more rapidly for obese men than for non-obese men (p<0.001). Smoking and previous history of AMS were also associated with the development of AMS (p<0.001).
Persons who are obese or have a history of a smoking or AMS, are more likely to develop AMS symptoms. Further understanding of the natural and evolution of AMS and of the risk factors associated with AMS will educate the general population and physicians and help in its prevention and treatment.
Key words: Altitude, Mountain sickness, Environmental medicine, Mountaineering
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