This BBC news article Mount Everest: Altitude sickness claims third death in four days caught my attention.

From what I understand the best cure for Altitude sickness is to get lower, fast. This is not always possible. Is there some kind of test you can do before going up a mountain to asses your risk of having a fatal case of Altitude sickness?

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  • 3
    you already did your homework regarding acclimatisation etc, an how to prevent and detect alt. sickness. However, there is no way to pre-determine who may be affected, as there are no correlations between alt. sickness cases, and its victims. I guess you could say "this guy is prepared, he will be fine" and "this guy was never at this alt. before and rushes the peak, he will get sick.". I don't feel this is a real answer, hence i just commented.
    – Peter1807
    May 23, 2016 at 14:00
  • 1
    @Peter1807 I think it is the answer. As I understand it the mechanisms are complicated and not well understood so it's impossible to test for.
    – user2766
    May 23, 2016 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


I could not find evidence of an existing test and there is no widely accepting known cause. The only risk factor commonly noted is having been previously affected by AMS. Other mentioned risk factors include:

  • anemia
  • preexisting heart or lung disease

However I found one article about a study done by a subgroup of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). in 2013 where they studied a group of 34 volunteers at sea level and at 3842m after passive ascent. They measured O2 saturation and a parameter they denote TAPSE (systolic function of the right ventricle evaluated by cardiac ultrasound) and observed whether symptoms of AMS occur after 24h. Combining the results of both O2 and TAPSE after 4h at high altitude, they predicted 92% of the AMS cases and 94% of the non-affected cases. Both measurements are non-invasive and cheap, so they remaining problem is that you have to pass 4h at high altitude.
They mention ongoing research and a quick search revealed quite a few recent papers on the topic, but I did not yet have time to look at them.

  • 3
    I think you can summarise this as "Research is promising, but there is currently no known practical way to predict AMS"
    – user5330
    May 24, 2016 at 1:49
  • Your are most probably right, I just was not comfortable with stating that as I found but did not read quite a few recent papers on it, so there may be a practical test out there that is not (yet) commonly known.
    – imsodin
    May 24, 2016 at 11:39

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