Xtreme Everest is a dedicated research team of
intensive care doctors, nurses and scientists based at the ISEH.
In the UK one in five of us will end up in intensive
care at some point in our life. Of those 20% will die. Hypoxia, lack of oxygen reaching
the body's cells and organs, is a common problem for patients who are
critically ill. It is very difficult to carry out research on these patients,
not least because they are so ill.
The team conduct experiments on both themselves and
other volunteers at high altitude and in chambers, exploiting the oxygen-thin
air, to provide critical insights into how intensive care patients might be
helped in the future to improve their survival rates and recovery long-term.
In order to simulate the critical conditions of
intensive care, the team have organised several medical research
expeditions to Everest, the world's highest mountain. The oxygen level at base
camp is about one half that found at sea level - similar to that experienced by
patients in intensive care. The team have even performed tests on themselves in
the "Death Zone" above 8000 metres on Everest, a height where there
is barely enough oxygen to support life. Here the team measured the lowest
levels of oxygen ever reported in blood in a healthy human volunteer. In all,
more than 500 volunteer research participants have joined Xtreme Everest
expeditions, on Everest and other mountains in the Alps and Himalayas so that
they could provide invaluable data about how they adapted to low levels of
oxygen similar to those seen in critically ill patients.
2013 the volunteer groups joining the Xtreme Everest scientists
included identical twins, children, and Sherpas, as well as some of the
volunteers who took part in the 2007 expedition. Data from all of the
expeditions continue to be published in a variety of journals. In the
last year, two research studies have commenced in critically ill
patients in the UK, developed in part using knowledge gained from the
Xtreme Everest healthy volunteer studies. The first of these is being
conducted at the Royal Free Hospital. It is an observational study
looking at tissue metabolism and blood flow in adult critically ill
patients (TIMELORD). The second is a multi-centre feasibility study of a
randomised controlled trial of targeted oxygen therapy in adult
critically ill patients, (TOXYC).
Xtreme Everest is a not for profit organisation, led by doctors and scientists from UCL, University of Southampton and Duke University in the United States, conducting this innovative, cutting edge research.
Xtreme Everest website
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