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Format: 04/16/2014
Format: 04/16/2014

News

Advance for Physician's Assistants: PA's Kilimanjaro Climb Raises Awareness, $110K

Friday, March 12th, 2010

 by Terri Schaefer

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, at more than 19,300 feet, is so difficult that only 40% of climbers attempting to summit the mountain make it, says Jessica Lazar, MPA, PA-C. The primary reason? Altitude sickness.

Lazar would know. Not only has she has specialized in treating patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH) for a decade, but also on Feb. 26 she summited Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak.

Lazar, who is director of quality, research and education at the Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, traveled to Tanzania for the nine-day journey, along with her supervising physician and PH specialist Raymond Benza, MD, and Robert Frantz, MD, a PH specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The climb was part of Path to a Cure, a national campaign established by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association to raise money for and awareness about PH.

"PH is a rare disease that's not widely recognized in the medical community or the general public, and doing something such as shouting from the top of a mountain is sometimes necessary to get people to pay attention," Lazar says. "The disease is often misdiagnosed for a year before the right diagnosis is made, and without treatment, survival averages 2 ½ years," she says, which makes early diagnosis critical and makes improved awareness so important.

"Physiologically, altitude sickness causes PH in the climbers," Lazar says. "So what better way to raise awareness of PH than to give to ourselves the very same disease that our patients have?"

To read more, visit Advance for Physician's Assistants.

 

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