Alzheimer’s effects at high altitude…
I’ll be leaving for Mont Blanc this Sunday to begin my serious Everest training regiment. I will be bringing my memory exercises up with me on the mountain as well. Interestingly enough, I found an article in an older Outside magazine that discussed studies done on climbers which showed that when they returned from a climb, they showed some pretty frightening things on MRI scans of the brain. Apparently, climbers can experience permanent changes in the brain after being at high altitude for some time. Virchow-Robin spaces in the brain (which are the widening of spaces between blood vessels in the brain) become enlarged. The enlarging of these spaces is exactly what is observed in elderly Alzheimer patients. It is also very common for climbers to return from long expeditions and have difficulty remembering things they once knew before. Scary.
This is not the most encouraging news, but it further ties the link between my cause and climbing and memory. It will also be great to further place importance on doing daily mental stimulation in order to keep the mind focused and clear. While I’m on Mont Blanc next week, I’ll be testing my memory to see how it performs at higher altitudes and how it is affected once I return down to sea level.
Wish me luck! This climb is the first large step towards bringing Alzheimer’s research and awareness to the top of the world! Exciting!