Record low for human blood oxygen levels

Challenges in thin air of Everest could inform patient care

7:28pm, January 7, 2009

Avalanches, vicious winds and sub-zero temperatures aren’t the only extremes endured by those who climb Mount Everest. Hypoxia, a lack of oxygen that can lead to cell death, also threatens. But a study of people ascending Mount Everest’s slopes suggests that some humans are especially tolerant of low oxygen levels, perhaps because their bodies use oxygen more efficiently. The findings, reported in the Jan. 8 New England Journal of Medicine, could inform the treatment of critically ill patients struggling to breathe in hospitals.  

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