Rate of ascent and acute mountain sickness at high altitude

Tai Yi Hsu, Yi Ming Weng, Yu Hui Chiu, Wen Cheng Li, Pang Yen Chen, Shih Hao Wang, Kuo Feng Huang, Wei Fong Kao, Te Fa Chiu, Jih Chang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To examine the effect of ascent rate on the induction of acute mountain sickness (AMS) in young adults during a climb to Jiaming Lake (3350 m) in Taiwan. Design: Prospective, nonrandomized. Setting: Climb from 2370 to 3350 m. Participants: Young adults (aged 18 to 26 years) (N = 91) chose to participate in either the fast ascent (3 days; n = 43) or slow ascent (4 days; n = 48) group (1 and 2). Assessment of Risk Factors: Two criteria were used to define AMS. A Lake Louise score $3 and Lake Louise criteria [in the setting of a recent gain in altitude, the presence of headache and at least 1 of gastrointestinal discomfort (anorexia, nausea, or vomiting), fatigue or weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness, or difficulty sleeping]. Main Outcome Measures: Heart rate, blood oxygen saturation (SaO2), and symptoms of AMS were monitored each morning and evening. Results: Baseline characteristics were similar between groups, except for significant differences in history of alcohol consumption (P = 0.009) and climbing experience above 3000 m (P, 0.001). The incidence of AMS was not associated with the rate of ascent. Acute mountain sickness was most prevalent in group 1 on day 2 in the evening and in group 2 on day 3 in the evening. In both groups, AMS correlated with the initial reduction in SaO2. Body mass index (BMI).24 kg/m2 was identified as a significant risk factor for AMS. Conclusions: The development of AMS was closely associated with an initial reduction in SaO2. A BMI.24 kg/m2 also contributed to the occurrence of AMS. Clinical Relevance: These findings indicate that factors other than ascent rate should be considered when trying to ameliorate the risk of AMS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-104
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Journal of Sport Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 10 2015


  • acute mountain sickness
  • ascent rate
  • body mass index
  • heart rate
  • oxygen Saturation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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