Medicines less commonly used for preventing high altitude illness


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We included eight studies (334 participants, 9 references) in this review. Twelve studies are ongoing and will be considered in future versions of this review as appropriate. We have been unable to obtain full-text versions of a further 12 studies and have designated them as ‘awaiting classification’. Four studies were at a low risk of bias for randomization; two at a low risk of bias for allocation concealment. Four studies were at a low risk of bias for blinding of participants and personnel. We considered three studies at a low risk of bias for blinding of outcome assessors. We considered most studies at a high risk of selective reporting bias.

We report results for the following four main comparisons.

Sumatriptan versus placebo (1 parallel study; 102 participants)

Data on sumatriptan showed a reduction of the risk of AMS when compared with a placebo (risk ratio (RR) = 0.43, CI 95% 0.21 to 0.84; 1 study, 102 participants; low quality of evidence). The one included study did not report events of HAPE, HACE or adverse events related to administrations of sumatriptan.

Magnesium citrate versus placebo (1 parallel study; 70 participants)

The estimated RR for AMS, comparing magnesium citrate tablets versus placebo, was 1.09 (95% CI 0.55 to 2.13; 1 study; 70 participants; low quality of evidence). In addition, the estimated RR for loose stools was 3.25 (95% CI 1.17 to 8.99; 1 study; 70 participants; low quality of evidence). The one included study did not report events of HAPE or HACE.

Spironolactone versus placebo (2 parallel studies; 205 participants)

Pooled estimation of RR for AMS was not performed due to considerable heterogeneity between the included studies (I² = 72%). RR from individual studies was 0.40 (95% CI 0.12 to 1.31) and 1.44 (95% CI 0.79 to 2.01; very low quality of evidence). No events of HAPE or HACE were reported. Adverse events were not evaluated.

Acetazolamide versus spironolactone (1 parallel study; 232 participants)

Data on acetazolamide compared with spironolactone showed a reduction of the risk of AMS with the administration of acetazolamide (RR = 0.36, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.70; 232 participants; low quality of evidence). No events of HAPE or HACE were reported. Adverse events were not evaluated.