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Endocrine Aspects of High Altitude Acclimatization and Acute Mountain Sickness
  1. Lt Col David Woods, RAMC, Consultant Physician1,
  2. M Stacey2,
  3. N Hill2 and
  4. N de Alwis, Specialist Registrar3
  1. 1RAMC and Consultant Physician in Endocrinology and Diabetes Northumbria and Newcastle NHS Trusts, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer University of Newcastle, MDHU Northallerton
  2. 2Royal Army Medical Corps
  3. 3Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle
  1. Dept of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Wansbeck General Hospital, Northumberland. NE63 9JJ.01670 564022 01670 523091 DoctorDRWoods{at}


The acute acclimatization to high altitude is underpinned by a diuresis (and to a lesser extent a natriuresis) that facilitates a reduction in plasma volume. This allows a haemoconcentration to occur that increases the oxygen carrying capacity of a given volume of blood, a vital effect in the presence of a reduced partial pressure of oxygen. This critical acclimatization process is orchestrated by the endocrine system. This review will present the key evidence regarding the changes in several important hormones that affect this process.

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