Expert to speak on health at high elevations | AspenTimes.com

Expert to speak on health at high elevations

John Colson

Ever wonder what living in Aspen means if you have asthma, high blood pressure or anemia?

Dr. Peter Hackett will give a free talk Dec. 14 at the Given Foundation regarding the effects of high-elevation living on a variety of medical conditions ranging from diabetes to pregnancy and a whole lot more.

The title of Hackett’s talk is “The Effects of High Altitude on Health: Live Healthy, Live Long, Live High.” He will speak for about an hour, starting at 5:30 p.m., and there will be time for questions from the audience afterward.

Hackett is the former medical director of the Himalayan Rescue Association in Katmandu, Nepal, and most recently was the medical advisor to the Rolling Stones on a concert tour. He has given numerous lectures in Aspen in the past and returns as the speaker kicking off the foundation’s Winter Health Education Series.

Hackett is the director of the Colorado Center for Altitude Medicine and Physiology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, as well as director of Emergency Services for the Telluride Medical Center. He has directed numerous high-elevation research projects throughout Nepal and Alaska, and is a founding member of the Wilderness Medical Society.

He has written a book and countless articles on wilderness and high-altitude medicine, and has made appearances on “Nightline with Ted Koppel” and two NOVA specials. A seasoned climber, Hackett summited Mount Everest in 1981, climbing solo from the South Col to the peak.

Recommended Stories For You

“The human body is amazing in its ability to adjust to the low oxygen levels of high altitude,” he remarked. “Even persons with medical problems can generally do well, with a few simple precautions. Most conditions are not a contraindication to going to altitude. … You can deal with them.”

He said in a recent telephone interview that most doctors living at low elevations “don’t know anything about the effects of high altitudes” and so will recommend patients with abnormal health conditions don’t visit higher elevations.

“These issues come up,” he said. “One of my goals is to try to work with people and allow them to continue to live at altitude.”

One area that has received little research, he said, is the effects of abusing substances such as marijuana and cocaine at altitude.

Hackett said that in general high-altitude impacts on human health “have not been a major focus” of research by major laboratories.

“There’s no information on that,” he said

All seating is free. Donors may call the Aspen Given Foundation to reserve a space. The Given Institute is located at 100 E. Francis St.

For more information, contact the Aspen Given Foundation at 925-3730, or visit http://www.giveninstitute.org

John Colson’s e-mail address isjcolson@aspentimes.com

The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.