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Interventions for treating acute high altitude illness

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, June 2018
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (83rd percentile)
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17 tweeters
2 Facebook pages
3 Wikipedia pages


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208 Mendeley
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Interventions for treating acute high altitude illness
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, June 2018
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd009567.pub2
Pubmed ID

Daniel Simancas-Racines, Ingrid Arevalo-Rodriguez, Dimelza Osorio, Juan VA Franco, Yihan Xu, Ricardo Hidalgo


Acute high altitude illness is defined as a group of cerebral and pulmonary syndromes that can occur during travel to high altitudes. It is more common above 2500 metres, but can be seen at lower elevations, especially in susceptible people. Acute high altitude illness includes a wide spectrum of syndromes defined under the terms 'acute mountain sickness' (AMS), 'high altitude cerebral oedema' and 'high altitude pulmonary oedema'. There are several interventions available to treat this condition, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological; however, there is a great uncertainty regarding their benefits and harms. To assess the clinical effectiveness, and safety of interventions (non-pharmacological and pharmacological), as monotherapy or in any combination, for treating acute high altitude illness. We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, LILACS, ISI Web of Science, CINAHL, Wanfang database and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform for ongoing studies on 10 August 2017. We did not apply any language restriction. We included randomized controlled trials evaluating the effects of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for individuals suffering from acute high altitude illness: acute mountain sickness, high altitude pulmonary oedema or high altitude cerebral oedema. Two review authors independently assessed the eligibility of study reports, the risk of bias for each and performed the data extraction. We resolved disagreements through discussion with a third author. We assessed the quality of evidence with GRADE. We included 13 studies enrolling a total of 468 participants. We identified two ongoing studies. All studies included adults, and two studies included both teenagers and adults. The 13 studies took place in high altitude areas, mostly in the European Alps. Twelve studies included participants with acute mountain sickness, and one study included participants with high altitude pulmonary oedema. Follow-up was usually less than one day. We downgraded the quality of the evidence in most cases due to risk of bias and imprecision. We report results for the main comparisons as follows.Non-pharmacological interventions (3 studies, 124 participants)All-cause mortality and complete relief of AMS symptoms were not reported in the three included trials. One study in 64 participants found that a simulated descent of 193 millibars versus 20 millibars may reduce the average of symptoms to 2.5 vs 3.1 units after 12 hours of treatment (clinical score ranged from 0 to 11 ‒ worse; reduction of 0.6 points on average with the intervention; low quality of evidence). In addition, no complications were found with use of hyperbaric chambers versus supplementary oxygen (one study; 29 participants; low-quality evidence).Pharmacological interventions (11 trials, 375 participants)All-cause mortality was not reported in the 11 included trials. One trial found a greater proportion of participants with complete relief of AMS symptoms after 12 and 16 hours when dexamethasone was administered in comparison with placebo (47.1% versus 0%, respectively; one study; 35 participants; low quality of evidence). Likewise, when acetazolamide was compared with placebo, the effects on symptom severity was uncertain (standardized mean difference (SMD) -1.15, 95% CI -2.56 to 0.27; 2 studies, 25 participants; low-quality evidence). One trial of dexamethasone in comparison with placebo in 35 participants found a reduction in symptom severity (difference on change in the AMS score: 3.7 units reported by authors; moderate quality of evidence). The effects from two additional trials comparing gabapentin with placebo and magnesium with placebo on symptom severity at the end of treatment were uncertain. For gabapentin versus placebo: mean visual analogue scale (VAS) score of 2.92 versus 4.75, respectively; 24 participants; low quality of evidence. For magnesium versus placebo: mean scores of 9 and 10.3 units, respectively; 25 participants; low quality of evidence). The trials did not find adverse events from either treatment (low quality of evidence). One trial comparing magnesium sulphate versus placebo found that flushing was a frequent event in the magnesium sulphate arm (percentage of flushing: 75% versus 7.7%, respectively; one study; 25 participants; low quality of evidence). There is limited available evidence to determine the effects of non-pharmacological and pharmacological interventions in treating acute high altitude illness. Low-quality evidence suggests that dexamethasone and acetazolamide might reduce AMS score compared to placebo. However, the clinical benefits and harms related to these potential interventions remain unclear. Overall, the evidence is of limited practical significance in the clinical field. High-quality research in this field is needed, since most trials were poorly conducted and reported.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 17 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 208 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 208 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 33 16%
Student > Bachelor 26 13%
Student > Ph. D. Student 22 11%
Student > Doctoral Student 16 8%
Researcher 15 7%
Other 43 21%
Unknown 53 25%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 68 33%
Nursing and Health Professions 25 12%
Psychology 8 4%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 7 3%
Social Sciences 7 3%
Other 29 14%
Unknown 64 31%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 13. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 30 April 2021.
All research outputs
of 17,634,657 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 11,724 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 284,250 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 160 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 17,634,657 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done well and is in the 89th percentile: it's in the top 25% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,724 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 25.2. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 62% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 284,250 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done well, scoring higher than 83% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 160 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one is in the 46th percentile – i.e., 46% of its contemporaries scored the same or lower than it.