Data Will Help Mayo Clinic Scientists Examine the Effects of High Altitude on Body Functions
Online PR News – 12-October-2012 – Pittsburgh, PA – PITTSBURGH, PA (August 28, 2012) – BodyMedia body monitoring armbands have returned from a four-week expedition to Mount Everest in Nepal, where ten climbers and six Mayo Clinic researchers wore the monitors around the clock as part of a study of the effects of high altitude on the body. Sensors embedded in the armbands gathered over 5,000 physiological data points per minute used to calculate calorie burn, physical activity duration, steps taken, and sleep duration and efficiency, equipping researchers with a rich data set relevant to a portion of the study examining sleep disturbances. The data collected from continuous use of the BodyMedia body monitor armband (http://www.bodymedia.com/Products/Learn-More/How-it-works) provides a comprehensive picture of all daily activity.
Sponsored by National Geographic and apparel maker The North Face with support from Montana State University, the Mayo Clinic study is designed to provide insight into conditions such as heart failure, lung disease and sleep apnea that are associated with low oxygen levels like those found at high altitudes. The findings, which are expected to be published next year, may assist in treating patients with these medical conditions as well as in supporting military personnel, workers and outdoor enthusiasts who work or play at high altitudes.
The climbers spent six weeks of acclimatization at the expedition’s 17,500-foot-elevation base camp before the Mayo Clinic researchers arrived in April and outfitted them with BodyMedia monitors. Climbers then wore the armbands throughout the four-week ascent, during which six members of the team reached the 29,029-foot summit. Mayo Clinic researchers followed them in traveling laboratories and served as a control group, making it possible to compare physiological responses recorded by the armbands and other methods between acclimated and non-acclimated expedition participants.
“Our body sensing technology has been used for research for many years in areas ranging from obesity to COPD, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, cancer, bariatrics, sleep and intensive care, but this is the first use of our monitors for altitude research,” said Christine Robins, BodyMedia CEO. “The fact that Mayo Clinic selected our armbands for this project again demonstrates that our data, which is clinically validated for measuring physical activity, is as valuable for these kinds of rigorous studies as it is for weight management and other consumer applications.”
“Altitude research has practical applications for various diseases as well as for treating altitude sickness and helping people adjust to high elevations, whether you’re talking about troops in Afghanistan, workers in the South Pole or observatories that are thousands of feet above sea level. This Everest expedition will advance the science, particularly for conditions like heart and lung disease and sleep apnea that also have a low oxygen component,” said lead researcher and expedition member Bruce Johnson, Mayo professor of physiology and medicine. “The data collected by BodyMedia’s monitors will help us understand the stresses that high-altitude, low-oxygen environments place on the body and, hopefully, contribute to applying that knowledge to medicine.”