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Transplant Athlete
Thursday, January 10, 2008
  Higher Peak Altitude Simulator

I've gotten a few email questions about the Higher Peak Altitude Simulator, so I wanted to post my final conclusions.

Normal hematocrit levels are between 38% and 50%. Professional cyclists like to have their hematocrit as close to 50% as possible, however over 50% is considered proof of doping (and is dangerous because the blood is mostly solids and is very thick making it hard for the heart to pump-leads to heart attacks among healthy pro athletes). Around 34 or 35 is considered Anemic and a person can't donate blood. Obviously the more red blood cells in your blood the more oxygen you can get to the muscles the better. When you are anemic, the lack of red blood cells leads to fatigue, weakness, and lethargy.

Before my kidney's failed in the late 90's, my hematocrit dropped to 29. I was on EPO for nearly a year and that got my hematocrit up in the low 30s. The EPO made a noticeable change in my energy levels, it gave me my life back.

When I received the transplant, my hematocrit jumped from the low 30s to the high 30s. I felt like Superman, I could have leaped tall buildings, was faster than a speeding bullet, etc.

I was expecting a similar boost from the Altitude simulator (I've struggled at Denver's altitude on trips in 2003 and 2004). I was expecting that it would raise my hematocrit a few points and that I would again feel like Superman. That did not happen. BUT, I didn't struggle at altitude during the Race Across America. I pedaled up Wolf Creek Pass (10,550 feet Above Sea Level) and felt strong. It's possible that the simulator acclimitized my body for the higher altitude in ways other than affecting my hematocrit (maybe it did something to my lungs, or heart...I don't know).

My transplanted kidney is now failing and my hematocrit dropped to a low of 26. I am on EPO again to raise my hematocrit. So, it's entirely possible that my transplanted kidney was unable to produce the EPO needed to raise my hematocrit even though I was using the Altitude Simulator as directed.

My conclusion, based on my experience, is that this unit would get a person acclimitized to higher altitudes, meaning it works as advertised. My guess is that it would provide performance benefits to a healthy person, even though I didn't see those performance benefits myself. If I had spent more money on CAT or Hypoxico, I feel I would have received the exact same results as the Higher Peak unit.

I think you will find that this unit works as well as the other more expensive units, they are all generating hypoxic air.

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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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