ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Autumn Sees More Women With Bunion Problems
CANCER
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
High Rate of Rehospitalizations Costing Billions
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
DIABETES
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
The Best Diet? That Depends on You
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Disinfectants Can Boost Bacteria's Resistance to Treatment
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
Greener Neighborhoods Mean Slimmer Children
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
FITNESS
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Food and Water Supply Poisoned by Perchlorate
Stressed and Exhausted: An Introduction to Adrenal Fatigue
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
B-Vitamins Help Protect Against Stroke, Heart Disease
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
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Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Going to the world's most elevated natural laboratory, Mount Everest, British researchers have found that the established medical rules about the amount of oxygen needed by a body under stress might be wrong.

"Some people can tolerate extremely low levels of oxygen, much lower than we expected," said Dr. Michael P.W. Grocott, from University College London and lead author of a report in the Jan. 8 New England Journal of Medicine.

His team determined their findings on hypoxia, which is low levels of oxygen, from measurements made on 10 climbers as they went up and down Everest, whose peak of more than 29,000 feet above sea level is the highest point on earth.

The report is the first to come from a large-scale project "specifically designed to understand the differences between people and how they react to hypoxia," Grocott said. Those differences are difficult to measure in ordinary hospital laboratories, but the Everest project provided a way for "measurement of unusual people in a strange place," he added.

The researchers, from the Center for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine at the University College London's Institute of Human Health and Performance, wanted to make blood measurements at the very peak of Everest, but the weather did not allow that. Instead, samples were taken at the highest level possible, at an altitude of about 27,559 feet. The blood oxygen readings at that level "are, to our knowledge, among the lowest ever documented in humans," the researchers wrote.

"I don't expect patients to survive in oxygen levels that we saw in these subjects," Grocott said. Yet all of them "were functioning perfectly ably," he added.

The Everest finding could lead to a change in the treatment of the hypoxia often seen in people in emergency rooms, like those suffering heart attacks.

The first rule now in such cases is to keep blood oxygen levels high by whatever means possible, Grocott noted. "But mechanical ventilation can be harmful," he said. "It can cause inflammation in the lungs. The gentler you are, the less damage you do to the lungs."

The data from the Everest study is not nearly enough to be put to use medically, Grocott said. "We are not proposing a change in clinical practice," he said. But he added that it was enough to spur a proposal for a randomized clinical trial of less aggressive oxygen-supplying treatments in some cases.

"We are currently seeking funding for such a trial in the United Kingdom," he said. "We would do the trial in people at lowest risk to hypoxia, not to those with heart attack and stroke. It would be in younger people with no vascular [blood vessel] disease, traumatically injured patients with injured lungs."

But what is seen in Everest climbers might not be true in the emergency room, said Dr. Norberto C. Gonzalez, professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Kansas, who has done research on hypoxia.

The climbers in the study had spent substantial amounts of time at high altitudes, Gonzalez said. "These people are acclimatized," he said. "If you and I were exposed to this level of oxygen, we couldn't take it."

While he expressed marvel at the measurements, "as low in oxygen as you can get and still be alive," Gonzalez expressed doubt that the findings seen in experienced climbers could be extended to ordinary hospital treatment.

"I'm not so sure that you can extrapolate what happens to a healthy individual who is exposed to an extreme to someone who has many problems," he said.

-Ed Edelson

More Information

What hypoxia can do to the brain is described by the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.



SOURCES: Michael P. W. Grocott, M.D., Center for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine, Institute of Human Health and Performance, University College London, and senior lecturer in intensive care, University College London, England; Norberto C. Gonzalez, M.D., professor of molecular and integrative physiology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan.; Jan. 8, 2009, New England Journal of Medicine

Last Updated: Jan. 07, 2009

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Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
NASA

Mt. Everest from International Space Station