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Mount Everest to be Site of Research into Hypoxia

by Medindia Content Team on June 9, 2006 at 11:36 AM
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Mount Everest to be Site of Research into Hypoxia

The Xtreme-Everest Team has announced at the Cheltenham Science Festival that it plans to send a 20 member expedition team to mount Everest to conduct a research into the effects of low oxygen levels, hypoxia

Doctors and scientists from the Centre for Aviation, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine at the Institute of Human Health and Performance, University College London will be conducting the research along with researchers around the world. The aim of the study is to increase survival levels for intensive care patients

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Dr Hugh Montgomery, the leader of the expedition said: 'At the 8,850-metre summit of Everest, there's so little oxygen getting into the lungs that the body quickly starts shutting down and mountaineers risk slipping into a coma. These extreme conditions mimic what it's like for patients in intensive care and studying the human body in this environment will teach us invaluable lessons in the science of survival.'

According to Dr Mike Grocott said: 'One in six Britons will spend time in an intensive care unit and, shocking as it may sound, up to three in 10 do not pull through. We know that mountaineers survive on low oxygen levels that would take the lives of intensive care patients in minutes.
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'Our ascent will involve creating the world's highest medical laboratory, taking field science to a new level.'

He also said that Everest's summit was at exactly the limit of human tolerance for hypoxia and for many years doctors and scientists had believed that it would be impossible to reach it without supplemental oxygen. Today mountaineers like Reinhold Messner have proved otherwise. Should the mountain have been even a few meters higher the dream of scaling Mount Everest would never have become a reality.

Dr Montgomery had earlier identified a gene that controls improved performance at high altitude. He claims that the summit of Everest is a wonderful natural laboratory for the study of the effects of critical hypoxia.

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