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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Safety and Efficacy of Therapeutic Erythrocytapheresis Treatment in Chronic Mountain Sickness Patients in Shigatse, Tibet, China

Mingyuan Niu, Shekhar Singh, Ma Mi, Pian Bian, Zhuoga Deji, Duoji Mima, Xiankai Li

Department of Cardiology, Shigatse People’s Hospital, Shigatse, Tibet, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e927853

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.927853

Available online: 2020-10-20

Published: 2020-12-23

BACKGROUND: Therapeutic erythrocytapheresis (TEA) is a medical technology that separates erythrocytes from whole blood and has been used in various hematological conditions. However, reports on the use of TEA to treat chronic mountain sickness (CMS) are lacking. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and use of TEA in treatment of CMS.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A total of 32 patients living in the Shigatse area of Tibet (altitude 4000 m) who had CMS were treated with TEA. Clinical data, CMS score, Borg dyspnea score, 6-min walking test score, and NYHA classification values were collected prior to and after TEA therapy.
RESULTS: TEA treatment significantly increased SpO₂ (93.8±2.6 vs. 80.5±5.8%, P<0.001) and decreased red blood cell (5.77±0.70 vs. 7.48±0.67×10¹²/L, P<0.001), hematocrit (53.8±5.6 vs. 69.2±4.8%, P<0.001) and hemoglobin (178±16 vs. 236±14 g/L, P<0.001). Significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure were also noted (P<0.001). Echocardiography showed higher left ventricle diameter (4.6±0.4 vs. 4.4±0.5 cm, P<0.01). TEA markedly decreased CMS scores (0.45±0.85 vs. 7.58±2.31, P<0.001), Borg dyspnea scale scores (0.48±0.73 vs. 0.88±0.81, P<0.001), and NYHA classification scores (P<0.05). Additionally, there was marked improvement in the 6-min walking test scores (578.5±83.1 vs. 550.4±79.0 m, P<0.001). The procedure was well tolerated, with no complications.
CONCLUSIONS: Our novel approach of treating CMS patients with TEA safely and effectively reduced erythrocytosis, which remains a fundamental challenge in CMS patients.

Keywords: Altitude Sickness, Cytapheresis, Polycythemia