Climbing Everest is So Much Like Aging That the Mayo Clinic is Headed There To Do Research

By Valerie Ross | April 18, 2012 11:37 am

Mount Everest is often the site of impressive physical feats, as climbers brave brutal conditions to scale the tallest peak in the world. But the extreme altitude takes quite a toll on the body, causing hypoxia, muscle loss, sleep apnea, and other ill effects. Many of the same symptoms are more commonly found in elderly patients suffering from heart conditions or other chronic ailments—meaning Everest provides a natural laboratory for researchers to gain a better understanding of these diseases.

Scientists from the Mayo Clinic are making their way from Minnesota to Everest base camp, where they’ll set up an ersatz lab to monitor the vital signs of nine climbers making the ascent (the scientists’ 1,300 pounds of equipment will be carried to camp by yaks). The team will gather data on the mountaineers’ heart rate, oxygen levels, and sleep quality, as well as taking samples of their blood and urine. Among the questions the scientists will investigate are whether muscle loss, common in heart disease patients and the elderly, is related to lack of oxygen, especially during sleep, and why fluid gathers in the lungs of both some high-altitude climbers and some heart failure patients. They’ll also test out a new heartrate monitor device embedded in the climbers’ clothes—and, if it works well, perhaps in the clothes of patients someday soon.

[via Discovery News]

Image courtesy of Luca Galuzzi / Wikimedia Commons

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Health & Medicine
  • AG

    They might actually collect first hand data dying on Chomolungma. Hope not.

  • Andrea Larned

    I agree.

  • http://Information.Architecture.Abacurial.com tOM Trottier

    Does that mean that if you live below sea level you will become younger? What about people who live around the Dead Sea or Death Valley? tho maybe the place names give some idea…..

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

80beats

80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »