High Altitude Research Center (HARC) established in Summit

The newly created High Altitude Research Center (HARC) at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center will identify the prevalence of altitude-related medical conditions in Summit County residents.  HARC is a collaboration with St. Anthony Summit Medical Center (SASMC) physicians, Dr. Warren Johnson (Cardiologist), Dr. Marshall Denkinger (Chief Medical Officer) and the University of Colorado.  The Center will also collaborate with scientists from around the globe to study how living above 7,500 feet affects health and wellness, about which very little is known.  This formative study at HARC will seek to identify the prevalence of pulmonary hypertension and other altitude-related medical conditions in Summit County’s year-round residents.

The Center will serve as a living laboratory focused on discovering the effects of living at high altitude and ultimately, what steps can be taken to ensure that high altitude communities are fostering the health of the population.  The initial study will provide critical information about the health effects of living at high altitude by establishing a substantial baseline describing the health of the overall population.

Beginning in the Spring of 2019 and lasting over the span of two years, the first phase of the study will consist of a comprehensive survey of a large group of residents in Summit County between the ages of 18 and 90.  By completing a comprehensive health and altitude survey covering demographics and health status, this data will be the first of its kind in the US and will provide foundational information and a major step forward for the health and well-being of the people of Summit County.

After the completion of Phase 1, a select group of participants will be chosen to initiate a pilot study to determine the prevalence and severity of pulmonary hypertension in Summit County.  From this initial research, other health areas that may be affected by high altitude, such as low birth weight, athletic performance and drug metabolism will follow.

The fundraising goal for the High Altitude Research Center is $600,000 over three years.  Initial support has been significant and BGV Gives recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the Rob Millisor Heart Health Fund to support this effort.  Ultimately, it is hoped that the outcomes of the Center’s research will include new approaches to medical care for Summit County residents, public health programs that raise awareness of health risks and give guidance for safety and wellness and better health for residents overall.