Philips is collaborating with the Mayo Clinic to use its app-based and digital technologies on a research expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro to understand how the body reacts to high altitude and to apply that information to improve health.

Philips researchers are hoping to use the 10-day expedition to understand how to better detect and prevent cardiac issues because the lack of oxygen at high altitudes mimics oxygen deprivation in the body during a cardiac event.

The researchers will use contactless monitoring technology to measure vital signs of the 35 participants on the climb in a nonobtrusive way. Contactless monitoring uses “microblushes” on the skin to monitor heartbeats. The skin changes slightly in colour when the heart beats. While the human eye can’t detect this, Philips says it can use contactless monitoring algorithms to calculate a pulse rate based on these changes.

Philips will also use the CX50 xMATRIX to study heart measurements while Lumify, an app-based ultrasound designed to help make ultrasound more accessible, will be used to measure pulmonary measurements. According to Philips, these measurements will help provide researchers with insight on the effects of hypoxia on human physiology.

The researchers will also look at sleep diagnostics using the Alice NightOne wireless home sleep testing system to gather data on sleep quality and possible sleep disturbances. At high altitude1, the lack of oxygen can impact the body in a number of ways, including increased work of breathing and heart rate.

“Cardiology is one of the critical areas of focus for Philips and as such, we continue to collaborate with industry leaders like the Mayo Clinic in taking a unique approach to research, which includes climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to understand how hypoxia, or lack of oxygen at high elevations, impacts people of different age groups,” said CEO of Philips Patient Care and Monitoring Solutions, Carla Kriwet.

“Hypoxia mimics what happens to the body in a cardiac event and can give us clues as to how to better diagnose, treat and prevent these conditions. As we uncover and better understand the body’s biomarkers and how the body’s mechanisms acclimate to high altitudes, we can continue to develop technologies that can make a meaningful impact in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular care,” concluded Kriwet.

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