Obesity: Associations with Acute Mountain Sickness

Ge Ri-Li, Paul J. Chase, Sarah Witkowski, Brenda L. Wyrick, Jeff A. Stone, Benjamin D. Levine, Tony G. Babb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Background: Although few retrospective studies of high altitude have reported that obesity might be associated with the development of acute mountain sickness (AMS), this association has not been studied prospectively. Objective: To determine whether obesity is associated with the development of AMS. Design: Obese and nonobese men were compared at a simulated altitude of 3658 m (12 000 ft). Setting: 24 hours in a hypobaric environmental chamber. Participants: 9 obese and 10 nonobese men. Measurements: Percentage body fat (by hydrostatic weighing). Lake Louise AMS score, and Sao2 level (by pulse oximetry) were measured. Results: Average AMS scores increased more rapidly with time spent at simulated high altitudes for obese men than for nonobese men (P < 0.001). The response of Sao2 with exposure differed between nonobese and obese men. After 24 hours in the altitude chamber, seven obese men (78%) and four nonobese men (40%) had AMS scores of 4 or more. Conclusion: Obesity seems to be associated with the development of AMS, which may be partly related to greater nocturnal desaturation with altitude exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-257+I41
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 19 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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