Tag Archives: Medicine

High altitude illness

EURAC Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine

 

Staying two weeks at almost 4000 m on the peak of Ortles Mountain is not only a stress for the body but also a considerable logistical difficulty in the case of a rescue” says Giacomo Strapazzon, vice head of the EURAC Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine. It is for this reason that the Ortles project members needed an assistance medical team during the field work. But beyond the safety aspect, the expedition had ideal characteristics to perform an independent study on high altitude illnesses. In contrast to previous work in this field in which participants are monitoring during gradual ascent at high altitude, our participants were transported by helicopter to 4000 m, i.e. without physical effort and within a few minutes, and remained at this altitude for 2 weeks. This allowed complete monitoring of the acute acclimatization process of the body after this rapid ascent to altitude. The medical research included traditional clinical examination as well as ultrasonography and blood analysis before and during the expedition. Ultrasonography of the optic nerve and lungs were tested as a possible tool for early diagnosis of high altitude pulmonary or cerebral edema, two of the most important causes of death among mountaineers.

4 Feb 2012 Interview to G.V. Hofer

Today, we publish another interview with a participant in the autumn 2011 scientific expedition to the Ortler mountain. The person interviewed is Valentin Hofer, a doctor who took part as a member of the mountain rescue service and as a Eurac researcher/consultant.

How did you get to work on the Ortler project?

I was invited by the EURAC Institute of Alpine Emergency Medicine, both as a mountain emergency doctor and as a scientific consultant for a EURAC high altitude medicine project, which was associated with the Ortler project.

What is your particular scientific interest in high altitudes?

As a mountain emergency doctor I’m primarily interested in the various kinds of altitude sickness. Not only is the sickness itself interesting, but also possible connections to accidents on the mountain.

What kind of atmosphere was there among the participants in the camp at altitude?

26 September – The ice cores !

The second day of work on the summit glacier of the Ortler mountain and 50 metres of ice cores have already been extracted (See the picture gallery).

The favourable weather conditions have allowed the researchers to speed up operations.

No particular problems have been detected so far and the health of the personnel present on the mountain is also good. They are being constantly monitored by the medical team of EURAC’s Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine. Their work also involves collecting medical and scientific information that could help to better understand altitude sickness and particularly pulmonary oedema.