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Healthy volunteers are needed for a research study testing a combination of two drugs being evaluated as a potential treatment for high altitude sickness.

Eligibility Requirements

To participate in the study, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Males and females 18 to 40 years of age
  • Non-smokers for at least 12 months
  • No history of drug or alcohol abuse for the last two years

Study Requirements

Participation in the study required you to complete:

  • One outpatient screening visit
  • Seven days and six nights of confinement
  • One outpatient follow-up visit

All visits will take place at the Duke Clinical Research Unit, clinic 3N.

Qualified participants will be compensated.

For more information, contact Duke Clinical Research Unit at 919-613-6244.

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From PubMed the symptoms of altitude sickness include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid pulse (heart rate)
  • Shortness of breath with exertion

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Vail Today, Gorgeous View

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In the late 1890s in a laboratory atop a 4,554-meter peak in the Monta Rosa range in the Italian Alps, physiologist Angelo Mosso made the first direct observations of the effects of high altitude on the human brain: by eye and with an apparatus he designed, Mosso peeked into the skull of a man whose brain had been partly exposed in an accident, observing changes in swelling and pulsation.

Now a similar experiment has been done with noninvasive brain imaging, and for those of us who love to climb the results are not elevating. Neurologist Nicolás Fayed and his colleagues in Zaragoza, Spain, performed MRI brain scans on 35 climbers (12 professionals and 23 amateurs) who had returned from high-altitude expeditions, including 13 who had attempted Everest. They found brain damage in virtually every Everest climber but also in many climbers of lesser peaks who returned unaware that they had injured their brain. It seems that climbers of high mountains, whether weekend warrior or seasoned professional, face returning from the high peaks with a brain that is not in the same condition it was in beforehand.

What Gives in a Climber’s Brain?
Although a person’s tolerance to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) varies according to differences in innate physiology and physical conditioning, no one is immune. Those effects can be acute, affecting you only while you are at altitude, or—as the Fayed study found—they can be longer-lasting.

The first acute stage is called, naturally enough, acute mountain sickness. It can cause headache, insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. The next, more serious stage is high-­altitude cerebral edema, also known as HACE, brain swelling that is potentially fatal.

Lack of oxygen can directly damage brain cells. In addition, the walls of blood capillaries begin to leak at high altitudes, and the leaked fluid can cause dangerous swelling, pressing the brain outward against the rigid skull. Sometimes the optic nerves swell so badly they bulge into the back of the eye, degrading vision and causing retinal hemorrhages. Meanwhile blood, concentrated from dehydration and thickened by increased numbers of red blood cells, clots more easily. This clotting, along with the hemorrhage from the thinned capillaries, can cause a stroke. A climber with HACE may experience amnesia, confusion, ­delusions, emotional disturbance, personality changes and loss of consciousness.

Severe cases of acute high-altitude disease have long been known to cause brain damage. But one of the sobering things about the Fayed study is that even when climbers showed no signs of acute sickness, the scans still found brain damage.

The results in the Everest climbers were the starkest. Of the 13 climbers, three had made the 8,848-meter summit, three had reached 8,100 meters, and seven had topped out between 6,500 and 7,500 meters. The expedition had no major mishaps, and none of the 12 professional climbers evinced any obvious signs of high-altitude illness; the only acute case of mountain sickness was a mild one in the expedition’s amateur climber. Yet only one of the 13 climbers (a professional) returned with a normal brain scan. All the scans of the other 12 showed cortical atrophy or enlargement of the Virchow-Robin (VR) spaces. These  spaces surround the blood vessels that drain brain fluid and communicate with the lymph system; widening of these VR spaces is seen in the elderly but rarely in the young. The amateur climber’s brain had also suffered subcortical lesions in the frontal lobes.

How High Is Too High?
Of course, Everest is extreme. Fayed and his colleagues also studied an eight-person team that attempted Aconcagua, a 6,962-meter summit in the Argentine Andes. Two climbers reached the summit, five climbed to between 6,000 and 6,400 meters, and one reached 5,500 meters. Yet three members experienced acute mountain sickness, and two displayed symptoms of brain edema—probably because they ascended more rapidly from lower altitudes than the Everest climbers did.

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We Coloradans are lucky folks–we have a beautiful playground in our backyard. But there are certain concerns associated with being “Rocky Mountain High,” and altitude sickness, or acute mountain sickness, is one of them. Read More

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Rent Oxygen in Vail, altitude sickness is avoidable, Call us on 1-866-827-4718 (Toll Free) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

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Rent Oxygen in Vail, altitude sickness is avoidable, Call us on 1-866-827-4718 (Toll Free) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

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From Killmanjaro Journey’s

An Introduction to Acute Mountain Sickness, HACE, and HAPE

At Kilimanjaro Journeys we plan our approach very carefully to maximize acclimatization and minimize risk of serious altitude sickness.  However, it’s important to recognize that your journey to the summit  will bring you over 19,300 feet (5800 m).   This makes Kili, though non-technical, a very serious climb indeed.  Most climbers can expect to experience some symptoms of altitude illness during their climb. These can include  any or all of: headache, nausea, loss of appetite, breathing difficulty,  disorientation and general weakness.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a spectrum of illness, from mild to life-threatening that typically manifests above 8,000 feet or 2,400 meters.

The faster you climb to a high altitude, the more likely you will get AMS. Your symptoms will also depend on the speed of your climb and how hard you exert yourself.  Fit young men and athletes often fall prey to AMS because they are motivated and/or accustomed to pushing past symptoms during physical exertion.   Over-exertion (racing up the hill) will greatly increase your chances of developing AMS, HACE, or HAPE.   In some ways, AMS is still a very poorly understood illness, but other known risk factors are living at sea level and a previous bout of AMS.

HACE (high altitude cerebral edema) and HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema) are more severe conditions that can occur at altitude.  Both can result in permanent injury or death.

Kilimanjaro Journeys’ guides are experienced at altitude, have extensive experience recognizing and dealing with altitude illness, and are committed to maximizing your chances at a successful summit bid without jeopardizing your health.  A diagnosis of AMS, HACE, or HAPE will be treated with immediate descent.

For formal definitions of AMS, HACE, and HAPE, take a look at the Lake Louise Consensus.

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Do You Really Get Drunker at High Altitude?

Gizmodo asks, and answers…

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