Advancing The Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog

Archive for May, 2012

Bringing it to the patient

Posted on May 21st, 2012 by Admin

Tales from Everest

Posted on May 20th, 2012 by Admin

We had the pleasure of sitting in on Edie Grossfield's Post-Bulletin interview with Amine and Bryan. Some untold stories were told and a good deal of the team's personality came through. The team is watching for news of the Everest ascent which is set to begin tomorrow from base camp. Clearly the weather is being cooperative as evidenced by this weekend's ascent by another team that included 73-year old Japanese climber, Tamae Watanabe. Now that the Mayo team is back they are discovering photos they took that they didn't have the bandwidth to send earlier from Nepal. We have four here from their trek through the icefields. 

Dr. Bryan Taylor against the foot of Everest

Ice Walk on Everest


Here, there and everywhere.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema

Posted on May 17th, 2012 by Admin

One in a series of articles on the science of the expedition, this by Doug Summerfield, M.D. and Bryan Taylor, Ph.D.

One interesting, and potentially very dangerous, component of Mountain Sickness is the development of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). HAPE occurs in ~6% of those who travel to altitudes above 14,000 feet and is likely a consequence of a hypoxia-induced increase in blood pressure within the lungs. Factors that may increase the risk of developing HAPE include rapid ascent to altitude, excessive exercise, respiratory infection, and genetic variations. Symptoms include shortness of breath, decreased exercise tolerance, and a dry cough.  In more severe cases pink frothy sputum can occur.  Symptoms typically begin within 48-72 hours of a rapid ascent but it is rare to develop HAPE after remaining at a given altitude for more than five days.

See the HAPE graphic.

HAPE is not just an important topic for the occasional researcher who is either intrigued enough or crazy enough to sojourn into the extremes of the Himalayas.  Although at much lower altitudes, every year cases of HAPE occur in the American Rockies (~8,000 ft) when unsuspecting vacationers become at risk for this potentially life threatening condition.  The absolute number of cases is unknown but the incidence at ski resorts is thought to be between  0.01-0.1%.

You can minimize your chances of developing this condition by slowly acclimatizing.  A good rule of thumb is to not increase your elevation by more than 2,000 feet a day.  Also sleeping at an altitude below where you spend your daily activities has lead to the adage of “work high sleep low” and is another good strategy.  Medications such as Acetazolamide can be taken prophylacticly to minimize occurrence of HAPE. If the condition does develop, “rescue” medications such as dexamethasone, nifedipine, and sildenefil may help stabilize a patient, but decent is the only definitive treatment.



Prelude to an Ascent

Posted on May 17th, 2012 by Admin

The North Face/National Geographic climbers are nearing the end of their wait. Talk about patience! The weather seems to be allowing a small window at the end of the "season" for some ascents. The Mayo expedition team members, now back in Minnesota, [see TV interview with Dr. Bryan Taylor] will be watching with great interest over the next week as the climb is set to begin on the 21st.  Before the researchers left for home, all the expedition members -- from Mayo, the North Face, National Geographic and Montana State University -- gathered for a final photo.



Everest Ascent planned for 25th

Posted on May 16th, 2012 by Admin

National Geographic and North Face have announced the decision to abandon the planned ascent on the West Ridge of Everest due to bad conditions. Conrad Anker, head of the expedition, hopes to climb with the team going up the Southeast Ridge. That group will leave base camp on the 21st, hoping to summit on the 25th or 26th. Read the National Geographic news release. The climbing team continues to wear the monitoring devices from Mayo Clinic and data recorded and stored in their memory caches will provide our researchers with metrics from the ascent.

The Mayo team is resting and readjusting to sea level. Not everyone is back at work or on campus here yet. My colleague Joel Streed walked in this morning looking tan and ten pounds lighter. We'll ask him to share his impressions here once he's re-acclimated to the office.

One local news outlet managed to catch Dr. Johnson picking up gear shortly after the return.



Reflections of Climbers on Research

Posted on May 15th, 2012 by Admin

Research is continuing on the Everest climb. Yes, the Mayo team is back in Minnesota, but now the data crunching begins as equipment is being retrieved via one shipping outlet  or another on its way back from Nepal. At least two manuscripts will be started almost immediately. Back on Everest, the climbers have a two-week window to attempt a summit before the weather changes. They continue to wear the monitoring systems and data is being recorded and stored for shipment back to the U.S.

Before departing base camp, Joel Streed recorded the reflections of three of the climbers -- Hilaree O' Neill, Emily Harrington, and Sam Elias -- on what it's like to be the focus of science.

Arrival – 5-12-12

Posted on May 13th, 2012 by Admin

The look of success, the smiles of homecoming

The team arrived shortly after 7 on Saturday evening to the delight of family, friends and colleagues. Several TV stations captured the event before everyone rushed off for some private time, American food, and rest.

WCCO TV coverage

KSTP TV coverage

Facing the cameras on arrival in the Twin Cities

Coming Home

Posted on May 11th, 2012 by Admin

The Mayo Clinic Everest Research team is scheduled to arrive home tomorrow evening, landing at the Minneapolis airport at 7:15. The team will then rest up for a bit and reunite in the lab at Mayo to begin evaluation of data while they await the summiting of the two North Face/National Geographic climbing teams in coming days. We will continue to post information on the science and updates on their expedition. Stay tuned for all the video we've not been able to post due to transmission limitations from the mountain, more impressions of Nepal and more great graphics and science.

"I just need to pick up a few things…on my way to Everest."

Posted on May 11th, 2012 by Admin

Just before the Mayo research team left for Mount Everest some of the members realized they were short a few items. So our medical researchers (Bryan, Alex and Amine) made a quick trip to the "corner store".  [Shooting and editing by Dan Dwyer]

Physiology at Altitude

Posted on May 11th, 2012 by Admin