Prevalence of cardiovascular diseases among alpine skiers and hikers in the Austrian Alps

High Alt Med Biol. Fall 2007;8(3):245-52. doi: 10.1089/ham.2007.1005.


Mountain sports, especially hiking and alpine skiing, are very popular. It is speculated that a high percentage of hikers and skiers are older and have cardiovascular diseases, but little is known about the real frequency of cardiovascular diseases in mountaineers and skiers. The goal of this study was to provide data on the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases (coronary artery disease with and without myocardial infarction, hypertension, and arrhythmias) of a representative sample of hikers and skiers in the Austrian Alps. Questionnaire results of 1431 hikers and 1043 skiers were included in the evaluation. Regarding the whole sample, 12.7% (11.0 to 14.4) of the hikers and 11.2% (9.3 to 13.1) of the skiers are afflicted with at least one type of cardiovascular disease. The frequency of cardiovascular diseases is age dependent and more pronounced in men, but only small differences were detected between hikers and skiers. It can be assumed that 4 to 5 million hikers and skiers with known cardiovascular diseases are active in the Alps annually. Scientific research should provide the basis of an optimal risk management for this large group of persons.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Altitude Sickness / epidemiology
  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mountaineering / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Sampling Studies
  • Skiing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data*