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For Immediate Release

High Altitude Sickness Is a Significant Problem for U.S. Military in Afghanistan

Contact: Vicki Cohn, 914-740-,

New Rochelle, NY, May 17, 2011-Troops that parachute into the mountainous battlefields of Afghanistan are at risk for acute mountain sickness (AMS) and its disabling symptoms, even though they may have a high level of fitness at sea level. Rapid exposure to high altitude is a major cause of AMS, a common disorder that is the subject of extensive research. High Altitude Medicine & Biology, published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., is the only peer-reviewed journal devoted to high altitude medicine and is the authoritative source for the latest research on all aspects of AMS, including its causes, effects, and treatment options. A sample issue and tables of content are available online.

"Since the 60s the U.S. Army has stimulated applied research into the physical and mental disabilities caused by exposure to high terrestrial elevations. This effort is even more relevant today with the presence of U.S. Warfighters in the mountains of Afghanistan," says Allen Cymerman, PhD, a member of the Journal's Editorial Board and research physiologist at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, in Natick, MA. "The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine conducts studies whose goals are to define strategies to accelerate altitude acclimatization thus mitigating the deleterious effects of acute mountain sickness and related altitude-induced medical problems and to improve the hypoxia-induced decrements in mental and physical performance associated with altitude exposure."

"People who rapidly ascend to high altitude frequently develop acute mountain sickness. This is characterized by headache, lassitude, gastrointestinal symptoms, sleep deprivation, and typically affects the ability of the individual to carry out a task. It is not surprising that troops airlifted or parachuting into mountains in Afghanistan develop this condition," says John B. West, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of High Altitude Medicine & Biology and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. "Although it often largely goes away after two or three days, it will affect the operational efficiency of people in the meantime. A feature of acute mountain sickness is that extreme fitness at sea level does not prevent its occurrence. There seems to be little relationship between the likeliness of acute mountain sickness and fitness at sea level."

High Altitude Medicine & Biology, the Official Journal of the International Society for Mountain Medicine, is published quarterly online. It is the only peer-reviewed journal dedicated exclusively to the latest advances in high altitude life sciences. The Journal presents findings on the effects of chronic hypoxia on lung and heart disease, pulmonary and cerebral edema, hypertension, dehydration, infertility, appetite and weight loss, and other diseases. Complete tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed online.