Assessment of high altitude tolerance in healthy individuals

High Alt Med Biol. 2001 Summer;2(2):287-96. doi: 10.1089/152702901750265378.

Abstract

The most reliable prediction of high altitude tolerance can be derived from the clinical history of previous comparable exposures. Unfortunately, there are no reliable tests for prediction prior to first-time ascents. Although susceptibility to AMS is usually associated with a low hypoxic ventilatory response (HVR), there is too much overlap with the range of normal values, which precludes measuring HVR or O(2) saturation during brief hypoxia for reliable identification of susceptibility to AMS. A low HVR and an exaggerated rise in pulmonary artery pressure with (prolonged) hypoxia, or exercise in normoxia, are markers of susceptibility to high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). These tests can not be recommended for routinely determining high altitude tolerance because the prevalence of susceptibility to HAPE is low and because specificity and sensitivity of these tests are not sufficiently established. On the other hand, HAPE may be avoided in susceptible individuals by ascent rates of 300 m per day above an altitude of 2000 m. Since prediction of risk of mountain sickness is difficult, it is important during the physician consultation prior to ascent to consider the altitude profile, the type of ascent, the performance capacity, the history of previous exposures, and the medical infrastructure of the area.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization*
  • Altitude Sickness / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mountaineering*
  • Physical Examination*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Predictive Value of Tests