Painless acute myocardial infarction on Mount Kilimanjaro

Document Type

Case Report


Internal Medicine (East Africa)


An individual experiencing dyspnoea or syncope at high altitude is commonly diagnosed to have high-altitude pulmonary edema or cerebral edema. Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is generally not considered in the differential diagnosis. There have been very rare cases of AMI reported only from Mount Everest. We report a case of painless ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) that occurred while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. A 51-year-old man suffered dyspnoea and loss of consciousness near the mountain peak, at about 5600 m. At a nearby hospital, he was treated as a case of high-altitude pulmonary edema. ECG was not obtained. Two days after the incident, he presented to our institution with continued symptoms of dyspnoea, light-headedness and weakness, but no pain. He was found to have inferior wall and right ventricular STEMI complicated by complete heart block. He was successfully managed with coronary angioplasty, with good recovery.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.