Expedition 2002 – Chacalataya, Bolivia

Bolivia is not the country to choose for baseline observations at sea level but arrival in La Paz gives one the opportunity of acute hypoxia studies at approx 3500m.

Fifteen members were joined by Steve Harris and Steve Myers from QinetiQ, by Prof Joe Fisher and four members of the Department of Anaesthetics, University of Toronto and by Phil Collins from ScanMed Medical for a successful collaborative expedition. After acclimatising in La Paz the group travelled by bus to refugio Huayna Potosi (4750m) and then to the ski station on Chacultaya (5260m).

The main aims of the experiments were to assess the effect of exercise on cerebral oxygenation and on the proteinuria and to regulate the loss of carbon dioxide. Experiments were based on the modified supine cycle ergometer (Alticycle) and on the Fisher rebreathing circuit. Other experiments involved assessment of cerebral blood flow by oxygen bolus and after sildenafil, the effects of hyperventilation, and the assessment of truncal ataxia using the sharpened Romberg test.

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