Background The diagnosis of acute mountain sickness, which lacks a reliable and objective diagnostic tool, still depends on the clinical symptoms and signs and remains a major threat and unpredictable disease affecting millions of mountaineers. Objectives To record electroencephalography signals with small, convenient, wireless equipment and to test whether electroencephalography parameters, which are more sensitive and reliable markers, could predict the symptoms of acute mountain sickness. Methods Twenty-five participants were enrolled and separated into two groups to climb Mount Jade in Taiwan. We collected electrocardiography signals and arterial oxygen saturation data at ground, moderate (2,400 m), and high altitude (3,400 m). A spectral analysis of the electrocardiography was performed to assess the study subjects' electroencephalography activity at different frequencies (α, β, θ, δ) and the mean power frequency of electrocardiography. The clinical symptoms and Lake Louise Acute Mountain Sickness scores of the subjects were recorded for comparison. Results A significant change in the δ power of electroencephalography was recorded in subjects ascending from the ground to a high altitude of 3,400 m in a 4-day itinerary. In addition, between the two groups of subjects with and without acute mountain sickness (Lake Louise Acute Mountain Sickness scores < 3 and ≥ 3), the δ power of electroencephalography at the fronto-parietal 1 and parietal 3 electrodes at moderate altitude as well as the changes of δ power and mean power frequency of electrocardiography over parietal 4 at high altitude showed a significant difference. At moderate altitude, the increasing δ power of electroencephalography at the parietal 4 electrode was related to the headache symptom of acute mountain sickness before ascending to high altitude. Conclusion At moderate altitude, the δ power increase of electroencephalography at the P4 electrode could be a predictor of acute mountain sickness symptoms before ascending to high altitude. Thus, electroencephalography had the potential to identify the risk of acute mountain sickness.
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