Variables contributing to acute mountain sickness on the summit of Mt Whitney

Wilderness Environ Med. Winter 2006;17(4):221-8. doi: 10.1580/pr43-05.1.

Abstract

Objective: The interaction of 15 variables representing physical characteristics, previous altitude exposure, and ascent data was analyzed to determine their contribution to acute mountain sickness (AMS).

Methods: Questionnaires were obtained from 359 volunteers upon reaching the summit of Mt Whitney (4419 m). Heart rate and arterial oxygen saturation were measured with a pulse oximeter, and AMS was identified by Lake Louise Self-Assessment scoring. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to identify significant protective and risk factors for AMS.

Results: Thirty-three percent of the sample met the criteria for AMS. The odds of experiencing AMS were greater for those who reported a previous altitude illness (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 2.00, P < .01) or who were taking analgesics during the ascent (adjusted OR = 2.09, P < .01). Odds for AMS decreased with increasing age (adjusted OR = 0.82, P < .0001), a greater number of climbs above 3000 m in the past month (adjusted OR = 0.92, P < .05), and use of acetazolamide during the ascent (adjusted OR = 0.33, P < .05).

Conclusions: The significant determinants of AMS on the summit of Mt Whitney were age, a history of altitude illness, number of climbs above 3000 m in the past month, and use of acetazolamide and analgesics during ascent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetazolamide / administration & dosage
  • Acetazolamide / adverse effects
  • Acute Disease
  • Age Factors
  • Altitude Sickness / epidemiology*
  • Altitude Sickness / etiology*
  • Analgesics / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics / adverse effects
  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / complications*
  • Hypoxia / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Oximetry
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors

Substances

  • Analgesics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Acetazolamide