The effects of acetazolamide on the ventilatory response to high altitude hypoxia

Chest. 1992 Mar;101(3):736-41. doi: 10.1378/chest.101.3.736.


Acetazolamide treatment ameliorates the symptoms of AMS; however, the mechanism by which this occurs is unclear. To examine the effects of acetazolamide on oxygenation, CO2 responsiveness and ventilatory pattern during acute exposure to HA, we studied two groups of subjects at SL and following rapid (less than 8 h) transport to HA. Acetazolamide or placebo tablets were given to groups 1 and 2, respectively, in a double-blind manner after baseline SL measurements; treatment was continued during HA exposure. There was no difference in the ventilatory pattern at HA, between the two groups. While the Ve achieved in response to CO2 at HA vs SL was much greater in each group the percent change from baseline at HA versus that at SL was not significantly different. The beneficial effects of acetazolamide in AMS are associated with a higher level of ventilation at HA and better oxygenation: CO2 chemosensitivity is not affected by acetazolamide at HA.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acetazolamide / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Altitude Sickness / blood
  • Altitude Sickness / drug therapy*
  • Altitude Sickness / physiopathology
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Respiration / drug effects*


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Acetazolamide
  • Oxygen