Mayo researchers traveling to Mt. Everest

A team of Mayo Clinic physiologists is traveling to Mount Everest Monday to monitor a group of climbers.

The researchers hope to gather data that would help them understand certain diseases better.

Postdoctoral research fellow Amine Issa said the lure is the mountain's extreme altitude. It puts climbers under the same conditions as those experienced by patients suffering heart disease, obesity and other ailments.

"By climbing up the altitude, you start to develop some of those symptoms," Issa said. "It's just as hard as a heart-failure patient to exercise than it is for a normal person to exercise at base camp."

The Mayo researchers will stay in base camp. Devices will record the climbers' vital signs as they scale the mountain.

Issa said they hope to use the data to spot physiological trends and design health-warning systems.

"It'll be a gold mine," Issa said. "We'll be able to bring that back, look at trends. And that'll help us predict when and who might get sick, and design warning systems — really, really hit home on the preventive medicine once we can sort through the data and do further iteration and study."

The group, sponsored by The North Face and the National Geographic Society, returns to Minnesota May 15.

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