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Hikers Could Die From AMS: Prevention Awareness Needs To Increase

Date:
July 3, 2007
Source:
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Summary:
Acute mountain sickness affects almost half of those ascending to heights over 3,000 meters and may lead to life-threatening complications such as pulmonary or cerebral edema. A new study appearing in Journal of Travel Medicine details a prospective on-site study in the Himalayas between July and October 2004 in which the knowledge and practices concerning AMS were examined amongst trekkers.
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Acute mountain sickness (AMS) affects almost half of those ascending to heights over 3,000m and may lead to life-threatening complications such as pulmonary or cerebral edema. A new study appearing in Journal of Travel Medicine details a prospective on-site study in the Himalayas between July and October 2004 in which the knowledge and practices concerning AMS were examined amongst trekkers.

The interest of the general public in AMS is thought to have increased over the past 25 years. This change is partly due to media exposure, trekking guidebooks and the wide availability of the Internet. In spite of these apparent changes, it is unknown whether there is an actual increased awareness among those who actually climb to these altitudes, and if this awareness is accompanied by a decrease in the prevalence of AMS. The study aimed to characterize the knowledge among high-altitude trekkers regarding symptoms, prevention, and treatment of AMS, and to examine whether this knowledge is translated into practice.

92 percent had heard of AMS prior to their current trip. Overall, awareness of AMS among trekkers was good, particularly in regard to symptoms and modes of treatment. Almost 90 percent of the travelers were found to have “basic knowledge” of AMS and could recognize its symptoms (such as headache, plus 2 or more of the following: fatigue, dizziness, nausea, insomnia). 72 percent knew that descent was the primary mode of treatment. However, a fundamental mode of treatment, oxygen, was known to less than 10 percent of travelers.

47 percent of those surveyed suffered from AMS and nearly 25 percent of the participants did not know that AMS could be prevented. Additionally, 15 percent of those surveyed believed AMS to start above 4,000m, placing them at risk at altitudes between 3,000m and 4,000m.

Implementation is lacking for translating seemingly adequate knowledge of AMS into practical action. The findings indicate that there is room for improvement, and they offer a major challenge to travel health care providers. Pre-travel consultation regarding AMS should be given by professionals with special attention to practical advice.


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Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. "Hikers Could Die From AMS: Prevention Awareness Needs To Increase." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070629100922.htm>.
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. (2007, July 3). Hikers Could Die From AMS: Prevention Awareness Needs To Increase. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 15, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070629100922.htm
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. "Hikers Could Die From AMS: Prevention Awareness Needs To Increase." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070629100922.htm (accessed April 15, 2024).

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