Altitude sickness screening

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Farima Kahe M.D. [2]


There is insufficient evidence to recommend routine screening for altitude sickness which include cold pressor test, heart rate variability, pulmonary function test.


  • Screening among patients with altitude sickness include:[1][2][3][4]
    • Cold pressor test
      • Put one hand above the wrist for 1 min in ice water (4-5°C)
      • Measuring blood pressure on the opposite arm at 15 seconds intervals
      • Difference between peak and basal blood pressure determines the level of vascular reactivity
    • Heart rate variability
      • Participants resting in supine position and wear a chest strap from a heart rate monitor watch
      • After 5 minutes rest period, heart rate is collected on a beat-by-beat basis for 10 minutes
    • Pulmonary function test


  1. Song H, Ke T, Luo WJ, Chen JY (September 2013). "Non-high altitude methods for rapid screening of susceptibility to acute mountain sickness". BMC Public Health. 13: 902. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-902. PMC 3852617. PMID 24079477.
  2. Velasco M, Gómez J, Blanco M, Rodriguez I (January 1997). "The cold pressor test: pharmacological and therapeutic aspects". Am J Ther. 4 (1): 34–8. PMID 10423589.
  3. Loeppky JA, Icenogle MV, Maes D, Riboni K, Scotto P, Roach RC (2003). "Body temperature, autonomic responses, and acute mountain sickness". High Alt. Med. Biol. 4 (3): 367–73. doi:10.1089/152702903769192322. PMID 14561242.
  4. Anholm JD, Houston CS, Hyers TM (January 1979). "The relationship between acute mountain sickness and pulmonary ventilation at 2,835 meters (9,300 ft)". Chest. 75 (1): 33–6. PMID 421519.

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