Institutes & Centers

Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine - Human Health in Mountain Environments

Human Health in Mountain Environments

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Working, living, or spending leisure time in a mountain environment can significantly impact health. Acute exposure to high altitude increases the risk of altitude-related illnesses, such as acute mountain sickness (AMS), and can trigger cardiovascular problems in individuals with pre-existing health conditions. However, residing in and engaging in mountain sports at moderate altitudes can have positive effects on overall health, particularly on metabolism and the cardiovascular system. As with many aspects of life, the key lies in finding the right balance. Additionally, apart from altitude, climatic factors, like exposure to cold in mountainous regions, can also affect health. Although maintaining optimal core body temperature is crucial for thermal homeostasis, cold exposure is not by itself considered a risk factor or a barrier to be physical active in the mountains. By adopting appropriate measures, such as wearing protective clothing, covering the mouth and skin, and seeking shelter, most of the risks associated with cold exposure can be mitigated. Our primary objective is to investigate the effects of acute, chronic, and intermittent passive and/or active altitude exposure, considering various climatic conditions, on human health. This research encompasses both healthy individuals and those with pre-existing diseases. Furthermore, we aim to explore the underlying mechanisms of high altitude illnesses, such as AMS and high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), while also striving to develop and validate preventive measures.