Add like
Add dislike
Add to saved papers

Incidence and Symptoms of High Altitude Illness in South Pole Workers: Antarctic Study of Altitude Physiology (ASAP).

INTRODUCTION: Each year, the US Antarctic Program rapidly transports scientists and support personnel from sea level (SL) to the South Pole (SP, 2835 m) providing a unique natural laboratory to quantify the incidence of acute mountain sickness (AMS), patterns of altitude related symptoms and the field effectiveness of acetazolamide in a highly controlled setting. We hypothesized that the combination of rapid ascent (3 hr), accentuated hypobarism (relative to altitude), cold, and immediate exertion would increase altitude illness risk.

METHODS: Medically screened adults (N = 246, age = 37 ± 11 yr, 30% female, BMI = 26 ± 4 kg/m(2)) were recruited. All underwent SL and SP physiological evaluation, completed Lake Louise symptom questionnaires (LLSQ, to define AMS), and answered additional symptom related questions (eg, exertional dyspnea, mental status, cough, edema and general health), during the 1st week at altitude. Acetazolamide, while not mandatory, was used by 40% of participants.

RESULTS: At SP, the barometric pressure resulted in physiological altitudes that approached 3400 m, while T °C averaged -42, humidity 0.03%. Arterial oxygen saturation averaged 89% ± 3%. Overall, 52% developed LLSQ defined AMS. The most common symptoms reported were exertional dyspnea-(87%), sleeping difficulty-(74%), headache-(66%), fatigue-(65%), and dizziness/lightheadedness-(46%). Symptom severity peaked on days 1-2, yet in >20% exertional dyspnea, fatigue and sleep problems persisted through day 7. AMS incidence was similar between those using acetazolamide and those abstaining (51 vs. 52%, P = 0.87). Those who used acetazolamide tended to be older, have less altitude experience, worse symptoms on previous exposures, and less SP experience.

CONCLUSION: The incidence of AMS at SP tended to be higher than previously reports in other geographic locations at similar altitudes. Thus, the SP constitutes a more intense altitude exposure than might be expected considering physical altitude alone. Many symptoms persist, possibly due to extremely cold, arid conditions and the benefits of acetazolamide appeared negligible, though it may have prevented more severe symptoms in higher risk subjects.

Full text links

We have located links that may give you full text access.
Can't access the paper?
Try logging in through your university/institutional subscription. For a smoother one-click institutional access experience, please use our mobile app.

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

Mobile app image

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2024 by WebMD LLC.
This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.

By using this service, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.

Your Privacy Choices Toggle icon

You can now claim free CME credits for this literature searchClaim now

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app