- Mayo Clinic researcher Bruce Johnson seeks insights into chronic illnesses, including heart failure and COPD, from extreme environment
VENTURA, Calif., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- VivoMetrics announced today that noted researcher Bruce D. Johnson, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Mayo College of Medicine, will be taking the VivoMetrics LifeShirt(R) System to the South Pole to collect valuable data for his ongoing research to uncover clues to altitude illness. Dr. Johnson will also use the extremely harsh and lower oxygen environments found in Antarctica to understand the body's response in chronic diseases where hypoxia (low oxygen) is a factor, such as chronic heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Dr. Johnson's research project, which is titled "Altitude Symptoms at the South Pole, ASAP," is part of a three-year study funded by the National Science Foundation ("NSF"). NSF operates a station at the South Pole and thus depends upon its researchers to perform well at high altitude and in the extreme temperatures and low humidity of Antarctica. The study began in October 2006 and the upcoming departure on October 13 will mark the second year of data collection using the LifeShirt. Dr. Johnson and his research team from the Mayo Clinic expect to spend up to six weeks in the extreme environment.
Altitude illness can be debilitating for anyone who travels, especially those who work or enjoy sports such as snow skiing or hiking in mountainous regions. Yet clues as to why some people are affected by altitude illness while others are not have eluded researchers.
"The LifeShirt enables us to capture real-time data in an extreme environment so that we can understand and quantify the body's physiological response in people with altitude illness," said Dr. Johnson. "We hope to begin to uncover similarities in acclimation or possible genetic markers that can tell us who will likely have trouble at altitude."
Altitude illness is generally characterized by symptoms that last for only a few days and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue, and the swelling of hands and feet. Life-threatening conditions such as pulmonary and cerebral edema also occasionally arise. Dr. Johnson's findings are expected to benefit the military, NASA, and certain medical specialties because adaptation to high altitude has similarities to the hypoxemia that has been identified in a number of chronic respiratory-related conditions.
"Diseases such as chronic heart failure, lung disease, and obstructive sleep apnea all have ties with hypoxia and thus research on predictors of high altitude illness may be helpful for these diseases as well," said Paul Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer of VivoMetrics. "The respiratory cardiopulmonary data captured from the LifeShirt allow us to evaluate the physiologic effects of altitude and low oxygen in a way that cannot be duplicated in a research lab."
The LifeShirt(R) System is the first non-invasive ambulatory monitoring system that collects, records, and analyzes a range of cardiopulmonary functions (such as pulmonary function, electric activity of the heart, posture) continuously in real-time. Sensors are embedded in a lightweight, machine washable garment that collects the cardiopulmonary data. There are optional peripheral devices that can measure EEG/EOG, leg movements, temperature, blood pressure, blood saturation, end tidal CO2, and cough.
VivoMetrics, founded in 1999 and based in Ventura, California, provides wearable, non-invasive products and services, using its proprietary LifeShirt(R) technology, which continuously monitor vital, life-sign functions, such as heart rate, ECG, respiration rate, flow, and volume, posture, and activity. The company's offerings, based on patented, field- tested technologies, were initially focused on improving the speed, outcomes and economics of pharmaceutical research. Since its inception, the company has further expanded its offerings for use by military, first responder and biohazard personnel, as well as athletes and for clinical, academic and corporate research.
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