The Longevity Project 2019: Unlocking the mysteries of human health at altitude | SummitDaily.com
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The Longevity Project 2019: Unlocking the mysteries of human health at altitude

Presented by The Summit Daily and St. Anthony Summit Medical Center


The Longevity Project 2019: Unlocking the mysteries of human health at altitude

In this year’s four-part series, we explore how high elevation affects the biological and physiological processes of the body, what performance gains can be experienced after spending time at altitude and why some people thrive here.


 
Liz Copan / ecopan@summitdaily.com

Pushing the limit: Understanding the body’s performance at high elevation

A visitor flies into Denver from sea level, rents a car and drives up to Summit County. They decide not to waste any time, and they go for a hike as soon as they get here. Not too long into the hike, they start feeling a little lightheaded, and a headache starts gnawing at their temples. Farther along, their breaths get shorter. Before they’re halfway up, everything in their body is telling them to stop. They’re nauseated, dizzy and their muscles are aching.

Read more
 
Liz Copan / ecopan@summitdaily.com

Living at altitude: Exploring the effects on mountain town residents

Life at nearly two miles high has its quirks. The air is thinner, meaning it can be harder to breathe. Dehydration sets in a lot quicker. Ultraviolet radiation is harsher, because there’s less atmosphere protection between the sun and our skin.

Yet more than 140 million people worldwide live above 9,000 feet with another 40 million a year visiting places at high elevation.

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Photo by Josh Helling

Building community: Identifying solutions to the mental health problem

The suicide rate in Summit and other mountain communities is consistently higher the national average. Of the 10 states with the highest suicide rates, eight were in the Rocky Mountains region: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

A variety of sociological factors — such as the rural and isolated nature of mountain communities, financial stress, a shortage of mental health providers and higher rates of substance and alcohol use — have been blamed as possible reasons for high suicide rates in the mountains.

Read more
 
Liz Copan / ecopan@summitdaily.com

Road map for success: What’s next for high altitude research?

Summit County is about to become a living laboratory for high elevation medical research, but the data might come too late for the county’s growing senior population, many of whom have been forced to leave the place they love because of a lack of care options.

Summit County does not have a single assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care facility where seniors can get the specialized care they require when they advance in age.

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