Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two days of staging as effective as four for high altitude climbs

Date:
April 21, 2013
Source:
American Physiological Society (APS)
Summary:
Conventional knowledge suggests that to avoid acute mountain sickness (AMS), climbers need to “stage,” or set up camp, at a lower altitude for four days when summiting peaks as high as 4300 meters. Scientists have found that two days of staging at a moderate altitude may be enough.

Afghanistan's geography is dominated by a collection of craggy peaks, the highest -- a mountain known as Noshaq -- has been measured to 7,492 meters. Consequently, the soldiers on duty in this mountainous terrain must often ascend to great heights as part of their duty. However, quick climbs without aadapting to altitude can lead to a condition called acute mountain sickness (AMS), marked by headache, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, nausea, and insomnia.

Conventional knowledge suggests that to avoid AMS, climbers need to "stage," or set up camp, at a lower altitude for four days when summiting peaks as high as 4300 meters. However, with this being impractical in a combat environment, military researchers set out to test whether this goal could be accomplished more quickly -- in half the time. In a new study by Beth A. Beidleman, Charles S. Fulco, Robert W. Kenefick, Allen Cymerman, Janet E. Staab, and Stephen R. Muza, all of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, researchers tested whether two days of staging at a moderate altitude is enough to avoid AMS before ascent to 4300 meters. Their findings show that this significant shortcut is about as effective as utilizing twice the time to stage, providing evidence that soldiers can ascend safely much quicker than previously thought.

The team will discuss the abstract of their study entitled, "Two Days of Staging at Moderate Altitude Reduces Acute Mountain Sickness Upon Further Ascent to 4300 m in Unacclimatized Lowlanders," during a poster presentation at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting, being held April 20-24, 2013 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston, Mass. The presentation is sponsored by the American Physiological Society (APS), a co-sponsor of the event. As the findings are being presented at a scientific conference, they should be considered preliminary, as they have not undergone the peer review process that is conducted prior to the data being published in a scientific journal.

At the Peak

Study leader Beidleman explains that the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine's stated mission is to improve health and performance of the Warfighter when exposed to extreme environments. That includes heat and cold, as well as extreme altitude, Beidleman's own area of expertise.

Years ago, researchers showed that staging for four days cut the prevalence of AMS by about half. However, Beidleman says, researchers had never studied whether this time could be trimmed down even further.

To investigate, she and her colleagues studied male soldiers ascending Pike's Peak in Colorado, the summit of which stands at 4,302 meters above sea level. They assigned 12 of these soldiers to stage for two days at 2500 meters. Another seven soldiers staged for two days at 3000 meters. Seven more ascended directly to the peak.

Trimming AMS by Half

Their findings showed that about 73 percent of soldiers who took a direct route to the peak showed symptoms of AMS. However, only 30 to 40 percent of those who staged for two days ended up with this condition, regardless of their staging height.

"These results suggest that you don't have to stay at a moderate altitude for four days. You can stay there for two days and reap the same benefits," Beidleman says.

She explains that two days is enough time for the body to begin affecting the biological changes necessary to live comfortably at a higher altitude. Within hours to days, she says, climbers begin to breathe faster and reduce blood plasma volume which helps the body bring more oxygen to cells, she says. These immediate changes help cells survive until the body implements more long-term changes, such as increasing the number of red blood cells and other metabolic changes.

"The military is always looking for faster, more effective solutions to problems," she says. "Now we know that our soldiers can climb quicker with less risk of serious problems."

Beidleman notes that future studies will investigate the effects of shorter staging at higher altitudes and in female soldiers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physiological Society (APS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Physiological Society (APS). "Two days of staging as effective as four for high altitude climbs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130421151624.htm>.
American Physiological Society (APS). (2013, April 21). Two days of staging as effective as four for high altitude climbs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130421151624.htm
American Physiological Society (APS). "Two days of staging as effective as four for high altitude climbs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130421151624.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Positive Ebola News: Outbreak 'Contained' In Nigeria

Some Positive Ebola News: Outbreak 'Contained' In Nigeria

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) The CDC says a new case of Ebola has not been reported in Nigeria for more than 21 days, leading to hopes the outbreak might be nearing its end. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Ebola Mission Head: Immediate Action Is Crucial

UN Ebola Mission Head: Immediate Action Is Crucial

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) The newly appointed head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury, outlines operations to tackle the virus. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola in US

CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola in US

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) The CDC has confirmed the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States. The patient is being treated at a Dallas hospital after traveling earlier this month from Liberia. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives In Clinical Trial

New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives In Clinical Trial

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) In a clinical trial, breast cancer patients lived an average of 15 months longer when they received new drug Perjeta along with Herceptin. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins