American scientists research high altitude effects on Everest
(CBS/AP) What effect does high altitude have on the human body? To find out, a team of American scientists and researchers flew to Mount Everest on Friday and set up a laboratory at the base of the world's highest mountain.
The team from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota says it plans to monitor nine climbers attempting to scale Everest to learn more about the physiology of humans at high altitudes. The goal is for this research to help patients with heart conditions and other ailments.
Everest's extreme altitude puts climbers under the same conditions experienced by patients suffering from heart disease, the team says.
"We are interested in some of the parallels between high altitude physiology and heart failure physiology," Dr. Bruce Johnson, who is heading the team, told The Associated Press. "What we are doing here will help us with our work that we have been doing in the [Mayo Clinic] laboratory."
Johnson said that the team's laboratory at the Mayo Clinic focuses on lung congestion during heart failure and that lung congestion often kills mountain climbers.
Specifically, the on-site study will involve the effects of high altitude on the heart, the lungs, muscle loss and sleep during the team's stay at Everest.
The team will spend about a week trekking to the Everest base camp, carrying 1,500 pounds of medical equipment. They will set up their lab at the base camp, which is located at 17,380 feet, and expect to be at the camp until at least mid-May. The mountain peaks at 29,035 feet.
Hundreds of climbers and their guides attempt to climb Everest every year, while thousands more trek up to the base camp. Several of them suffer from high altitude sickness and other complications because of the low level of oxygen.
An experienced 40-year-old Sherpa guide who had scaled Everest at least 10 times died of high altitude sickness Wednesday at the mountain's base camp, becoming the first fatality in this year's spring climbing season, the Washington Post reported.
Climbers often try to scale Everest in May when weather conditions are most ideal.
Popular in Health
- CDC: HPV vaccine reduced disease rates in teen girls 56%
- Natura Pet Products recalls dry foods over salmonella
- Obesity's "disease" risk no secret despite new classification
- "Goo" from naked mole rat may protect against cancer
- Parkinson's disease groups offended by Kanye West lyric
- Skin cancer self-exam: What to look for (PHOTOS)
- Limit food stamps for sodas, 18 mayors ask government
- Japanese "eyeball licking" trend carries blindness risk