International Database Seeks to Boost Treatment of Altitude Sickness

SUNDAY Sept. 9, 2007 -- An international database on high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) -- a life-threatening buildup of fluid in the lungs that can occur at high altitudes -- has been launched at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

HAPE, also known as mountain sickness, can occur at altitudes as low as 2,500 meters and can affect people of all ages and fitness levels. Little is known about the condition, and there's no way to predict who is likely to be stricken by it. HAPE affects about one in 50 mountain climbers, skiers and others who venture up mountains. Some studies have suggested a genetic basis.

Treatment options are limited. Sufferers must descend from high altitude and seek immediate medical attention.

This new database, operated in conjunction with researchers from Austria, Bolivia, Britain and the United States, was created to boost research and knowledge about HAPE and possibly develop a way of identifying people susceptible to the condition.

If they can be identified, those at risk could take precautions such as climbing more slowly or taking drugs to prevent HAPE.

People who've suffered HAPE are encouraged to register with the database, which will be available to researchers worldwide. Individual details about registrants won't be given out without their consent.

More information

MedlinePlus has more about altitude sickness.

Posted: September 2007


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