Mayo team returns from high-altitude heart research

Mount Everest
Mount Everest, at 8,850-meter (29,035-foot), the world's tallest mountain situated in the Nepal-Tibet border.
AP Photo

A Mayo Clinic research team is back in Minnesota after a study on Mount Everest.

After leaving Minnesota in mid-April to stay at an Everest base camp, the six-member team returned over the weekend to Rochester.

Mayo Clinic researcher Bryan Taylor says the extreme altitude on Mount Everest is similar to the conditions experienced by patients suffering from heart disease.

"Ultimately if we can really identify those parameters, for example, let's say someone who had the most disruption of their sleep ended up having the greatest symptoms of altitude sickness, and we can somehow relate that back to say heart failure situation, then perhaps we can predict adverse events," Taylor said.

Taylor says the group had planned to conduct 10 days of research but mild weather conditions on Mount Everest allowed them to gather data faster than they anticipated. It will take the team a few months to evaluate the data, he said.

"By studying healthy people at altitude we think that provides us a nice window of opportunity to better understand not only what happens at altitude, but to better understand perhaps the processes and manifestations of heart failure," Taylor said.

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