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Mountain mortality: a review of deaths that occur during recreational activities in the mountains
  1. J S Windsor1,
  2. P G Firth2,
  3. M P Grocott1,
  4. G W Rodway1,3,
  5. H E Montgomery1
  1. 1
    UCL Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine, Institute of Human Health and Performance, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2
    Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3
    University of Utah, College of Nursing and School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  1. Dr J S Windsor, UCL Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine, Institute of Human Health and Performance, University College London, Charterhouse Building, Archway Campus, Highgate Hill, London N19 5LW, UK; jswindsor{at}doctors.org.uk

Abstract

The growing popularity of activities such as hiking, climbing, skiing and snowboarding has ensured that the number of visitors to mountain environments continues to increase. Since such areas place enormous physical demands on individuals, it is inevitable that deaths will occur. Differences in the activities, conditions and methods of calculation make meaningful mortality rates difficult to obtain. However, it is clear that the mortality rate for some mountain activities is comparable to hang gliding, parachuting, boxing and other pastimes that are traditionally viewed as dangerous. Deaths in the mountains are most commonly due to trauma, high altitude illness, cold injury, avalanche burial and sudden cardiac death. This review describes the mortality rates of those who undertake recreational activities in the mountains and examines the aetiology that lies behind them.

  • altitude medicine
  • coronary heart disease
  • sports medicine
  • trauma management
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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None.

  • i This was calculated from Burtscher et al’s results that showed one SCD for every 780 000 hiking hours.40 It assumed that 8 h of hiking was equivalent to 1 day of activity in the mountains.

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