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Everest Research Findings Published

© Topper Harley
The Caudwell Xtreme Everest research expedition organised by Jagged Globe have published their findings.

The expedition studied climbers on Everest, measuring blood oxygen levels at altitudes of up to 8400m. This research has helped give a better understanding of how people in intensive care might be treated. It seems likely that performance at high altitude is affected by how much oxygen a person's haemoglobin can carry, or the efficiency of the cellular factories known as mitochondria, which use the oxygen.

Commenting on the sciencenews website, expedition leader Michael Grocott of University College London says:

"Patients suffering from cystic fibrosis, septic shock and other critical ailments often have severely low levels of blood oxygen. Treatment often involves administering oxygen with a mask, or mechanically ventilating the lungs, a harsh procedure that can do more harm than good..."

"The blood oxygen levels of the four tested climbers were startlingly low — the lowest a mere 19.1 millimetres mercury, the researchers report. In patients, levels below 60 mm Hg are cause for concern."

"The findings suggest that the amount of oxygen alone isn't the secret to physiological success. Other factors could be how much oxygen a person's haemoglobin can carry, or the efficiency of the cellular factories known as mitochondria, which use the oxygen."

“There's a significant possibility that some people may just be more efficient.”

Jagged Globe helped 240 trekkers reach base camp as part of this medical research, as well as the climbing team, who took arterial blood samples on the Balcony (8,400m).

Read a full report on the Science News website.


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14 Jan, 2009
Fascinating. I wonder how easy it would be to test for this capability?
14 Jan, 2009
Surely a test based on four participants has a limited amount of reliability? James
14 Jan, 2009
Yes, but 19mm Hg is really little. If these 4 people had normal values at sea level, then I suspect the effect is real. Furthermore were the blood samples taken at 8,400 meters- I have the vague suspicion that this limits the sample size somehow... The paper is published in the new england journal of medicine, which is AFAIK a fairly good journal, and they've probably discussed the relatively small sample size.
14 Jan, 2009
The aim of the study wasn't to see how individuals react as much as to try to shed some light in how the body copes in low oxygen environments, and more specifically the survivability of the cells. Most of the research was carried by doctors specialised in the ICU departments, where they assess if the body is still alive by measuring the oxygen levels in the cells. Interestingly, according to medical standards, all climbers tested were clinically dead! There's been a good documentary on TV a few years ago on this research done by the authors, most entertaining to see them haul a full on static bike all the way to 8000m
15 Jan, 2009
I'm sure this was on tv a wee while back, where researchers hoisted up various equipment such as cycling machines etc. T'was quite fancinating to watch and the struggle to acheive these results.
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