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Red blood cell adaptation at altitude begins within hours.

post #1 of 3
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post #2 of 3

Definitely an interesting experiment.  Basic concept that's new is the idea that blood cells can adapt.  So it's not just a matter of new blood cells helping to process oxygen better after someone gets to a high altitude.  That would take much longer.

 

"They sent 21 healthy volunteers (12 males and nine females, 19 to 23 years old) to a camp near the top of Bolivia’s Mount Chacaltaya - at an altitude of 5,260 metres (17,257 feet).

Their blood was monitored before they headed up the mountain, at several intervals on the mountain - including during a 3.2-km (2-mile) hike - and then after they had descended to 1,525 metres for a period of seven days.

After their week's rest, the volunteers were sent back up the mountain again to attempt their 3.2-km hike once more.

Interestingly, the volunteers reported finding the second trip up the mountain as being significantly easier than the first time, and they fared much better the second time they attempted the hike.

This suggests that the volunteers had not only adapted during the first trip up the mountain, but had managed to retain the changes even after they'd returned to lower-elevation environments."

post #3 of 3

I'm not at all surprised by those findings. Takes me about 2 days to adapt to moderately high altitude--10-12,000 feet.

When I was a medical student in the 70's I volunteered as a subject in a high altitude experiment. They took us from 600 feet to the summit of Pike's Peak (14,114). Half of us were given drugs that were supposed to increase the 2,3 dpg level of the red cells. 2,3 dpg increases the ability of the hemaglobin to release oxygen. Didn't work for me--they had to give me oxygen. I know I was getting the drugs and not placebo because one of the drugs was a magnesium compound--magnesium being the active ingredient in philips milk of magnesia. (Why subject myself to such an ordeal?--Free airfare out to the Rockies for me and my climbing partner and 120# of gear each for a month of climbing after the week-long experiment, plus the cash I got for cancelling my return flight and taking the bus back to Detroit.)

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