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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 12-15

A pilot study on the prevalence of acute mountain sickness at the sikh pilgrimage of hemkund sahib in the Indian Himalayas


1 President, A Thousand Metres Above Foundation, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
2 Director of Development Research, Office of Development Research, A Thousand Metres Above Foundation, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Inderjeet S Sahota
President, A Thousand Metres Above Foundation, 15177 83A Avenue, Surrey, British Columbia, V3S 8R9
Canada
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.116366

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Background: Hemkund Sahib is a popular pilgrimage located at 4,330 m in the Garhwal range of the Indian Himalayas. Many travelers to the region have observed pilgrims exhibiting Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)-like symptoms. However, no systematic study on its prevalence at Hemkund has been conducted. Materials and Methods: We surveyed 25 adults. AMS rates were determined using a standard Lake Louise Score (LLS). Responses to questions related to awareness of AMS, the perceived difficulty of the trek, and physiological data including arterial oxygen saturation (SpO 2 ) and pulse rate, amongst others, were collected. Results: Overall prevalence of AMS was 28% (mild AMS 20%, severe AMS 8%). Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) was 3.9/10. Water consumption for the 4-5 hour trek to Hemkund was only 0.9 L and 20% of pilgrims consumed no water at all. Nine pilgrims claimed to be aware of AMS although only one had taken prophylactic medication. SpO 2 was 82.2 ± 1.2% and pulse rate was 106.5 ± 2.9 bpm (mean ± SEM). There were no differences in non-LLS-related parameters when pilgrims were subdivided by presence or absence of AMS. Conclusion: This pilot study has, for the first time, documented the prevalence of AMS amongst pilgrims to Hemkund Sahib in the Indian Himalayas.






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