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Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is the most common form of illness at high altitude; however, it is still unclear whether age is a protective factor or a risk factor for the development of AMS in travellers. In recent decades, the number of travellers aged 60 years or older is increasing. Thus, the care of older travellers is a long-standing issue in travel medicine. This study aims to systematically review the current state of knowledge related to the effect of old age on the risk of AMS. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were used, and the following databases were consulted: PubMed/Medline, Embase, Europe PubMed Central (EuropePMC), World Health Organization Library Database (WHOLIS) and Literatura Latino-Americana e do Caribe em Ciências da Saúde (LILACS). The search yielded a total of 532 articles, of which 25 met the inclusion criteria, corresponding to 26 reports. Although the approaches, methods and quality were heterogeneous among the included studies, 12 reported a negative correlation between AMS prevalence and age, 11 detected no relationship and three papers indicated that the age of AMS subjects was significantly higher than controls. Despite these differences, old age does not seem to be a contraindication for travelling at high altitude. Thus, the presented synthesis will be useful for health professionals in travel medicine to better tailor their appropriate care for older adults who travel to destinations at high altitude.

Original publication





Journal of travel medicine

Publication Date





Post-graduate School of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.


Humans, Acute Disease, Altitude Sickness, Prevalence, Travel, Aged, Child, Europe, Travel Medicine