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Revista americana de medicina respiratoria

On-line version ISSN 1852-236X


WAGNER, Peter D. Operation Everest II.Translated byCarlos H Bevilacqua. Rev. amer. med. respiratoria [online]. 2011, vol.11, n.1, pp.24-34. ISSN 1852-236X.

8 subjects and 27 investigators met at the United States Army Research Institute for Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) altitude chambers in Natick, Massachusetts, to study human responses to a simulated 40-day ascent of Mt. Everest, termed Operation Everest II (OE II). Led by Charlie Houston, John Sutton, and Allen Cymerman, these investigators conducted a large number of investigations across several organ systems as the subjects were gradually decompressed over 40 days to the Everest summit equivalent. There the subjects reached a _VVo2max of 15.3 mL/kg/min (28% of initial sea-level values) at 100 W and arterial P02 and PCO2 of *28 and *10mm Hg, respectively. Cardiac function resisted hypoxia, but the lungs could not: ventilation-perfusion inequality and O2 diffusion limitation reduced arterial oxygenation considerably. Pulmonary vascular resistance was increased, was not reversible after short-term hyperoxia, but was reduced during exercise. Skeletal muscle atrophy occurred, but muscle structure and function were otherwise remarkably unaffected. Neurological deficits (cognition and memory) persisted after return to sea level, more so in those with high hypoxic ventilatory responsiveness, with motor function essentially spared. Nine percent body weight loss (despite an unrestricted diet) was mainly (67%) from muscle and exceeded the 2% predicted from energy intake-expenditure balance. Some immunological and lipid metabolic changes occurred, of uncertain mechanism or significance. OE II was unique in the diversity and complexity of studies carried out on a single, courageous cohort of subjects. These studies could never have been carried out in the field, and thus complement studies such as the American Medical Research Expedition to Everest (AMREE) that, although more limited in scope, serve as benchmarks and reality checks for chamber studies like OE II.

Keywords : Ventrical function; Pulmonary vascular response; Pulmonary gas exchange.

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