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Vascular endothelial growth factor and acute mountain sickness

Author(s): Nilles Eric | Sayward Helen | D'Onofrio Gail

Journal: Journal of Emergencies, Trauma and Shock
ISSN 0974-2700

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 6;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: Acute mountain sickness | high altitude illness | vascular endothelial growth factor

Study Objective: Despite causing significant morbidity throughout the mountainous regions of the world, the pathophysiology of acute mountain sickness (AMS) remains poorly understood. This study aims to improve the understanding of altitude illness by determining if vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a role in the development of AMS. The purpose of this study was to determine if elevated plasma VEGF correlates with increased symptoms of AMS at high altitude. Patients and Methods: This is a prospective study of a cohort of healthy climbers on Denali (Mount McKinley) in Alaska at 14, 200 feet. Baseline demographics, medications, rates of ascent, and AMS scores were recorded. Pulse oximetry measurements and venous blood samples were obtained. Comparisons were made between mountaineers with and without AMS. Results: Seventy-two climbers were approached for participation in the study; 21 (29%) refused. Of the 51 climbers participating in the study, 14 subjects (27.5%) had symptoms of AMS and 37 subjects (72.5%) were free of symptoms of AMS. Plasma VEGF levels were 79.14 pg/dl (SD: 121.44) and 57.57pg/dl (SD: 102.71) in the AMS and non-AMS groups, respectively. These results were nonsignificant. Similarly, comparison of sex, age, rate of ascent, pulse oximetry values, or history of altitude illness did not reveal significant differences between the AMS and non-AMS groups. Conclusion: This study does not provide evidence in support of the theory that plasma VEGF correlates with symptoms of AMS.
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