Advancing the Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog – an eclectic collection of research- and research education-related stories: feature stories, mini news bites, learning opportunities, profiles and more from Mayo Clinic.

May 1, 2012

Why We Are Here


This is the first of a series of articles about the science, medical applications and mission of the Mayo Everest expedition

From Amine Issa, Ph.D.

The first thing most people think of when they hear you are headed to Mount Everest is “Top of the World” or “Summit”, and the first thing I have to tell them is that we are not going to the top. The purpose of our expedition is research that will help us find answers to certain basic physiology questions. The higher you climb, the lower the atmospheric pressure which in turn reduces the partial pressure of oxygen in the air thus allowing less oxygen to diffuse into your blood. The extreme environment also poses thermoregulatory and dietary problems for those attempting to climb. Base camp, at 17,600 feet, is high enough that inexperienced climbers will be sufficiently challenged.

There are three primary goals for the expedition. We want to enhance the capabilities of climbers and explorers by improving current mountaineering technology and clothing through a better understanding of human physiology. The second objective is to use the knowledge gained from our experiments to further our understanding of the physiology of patients with heart and lung disease, as the similarities are quite striking (something you will find out if you continue to read these articles!) The final overarching goal is that the advanced monitoring equipment will be used to build a massive database that will help us detect trends and engineer algorithms to preemptively detect onset of disease as well as increase reaction time to emergency medical situations.

Tags: altitude research, Findings, heart disease, Innovations, Mount Everest, mountain climbing, News, physiology, Progress Updates, pulmonary edema

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