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Altitude sickness linked to dementia

Posted - Jul. 10, 2004 at 3:20 p.m.



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TOKYO, Jul 10, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Researchers at Juntendo University in Japan said those who suffer from altitude sickness are prone to developing dementia due to the brain's oxygen loss.

The Mainichi Daily News reported Saturday that researchers say people who have suffered respiratory diseases or have weak lungs should reach high places as slowly as possible.

Dr. Chie Usui's group has found that two elderly women, both 63 and with weak respiratory functions, suffered altitude sickness before falling into dementia during treatment at the hospital.

One of women showed symptoms of altitude sickness after she flew from Lima, Peru to Kusuko, Japan, which is 11,154 feet above sea level. Her mountain sickness subdued after seeing a doctor, however, she became slow in speech and movement and doctors diagnosed her as suffering from dementia.

The other woman also showed symptoms of altitude sickness when she transferred from Lima to Kusuko and two months later her memory had faded.

Researchers believe a section of the brain, responsible for muscle movement, was partially destroyed because of the lack of oxygen after visiting the high altitude area.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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