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When Exercise Can Kill — The Rare Risk of Rhabdomyolysis

rhabdomyolysis causes

Story at-a-glance -

  • Muscle trauma due to overexercise can lead to rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo), a serious condition that can lead to kidney damage, renal failure and death
  • When muscle is damaged, it dumps myoglobin, an iron- and oxygen-binding muscle protein, into your bloodstream. Excessive myoglobin obstructs your kidney’s filtration system, which can lead to acute renal damage
  • Classic symptoms of rhabdo include muscle swelling, pain, muscle weakness and dark, scant urine output. Other possible symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, intense shivering, confusion and possibly fainting
  • Aside from overexercise, other circumstances that can trigger rhabdo include accidents and blunt trauma, prolonged immobilization, drug side effects and metabolic and genetic disorders
  • Rhabdo can happen with any intense, repetitive motion exercise. Spin classes have produced dozens of cases, typically among newcomers who work above capacity. But even professional athletes and military personnel are affected

By Dr. Mercola

A recent WebMD article addresses a rare but potentially fatal muscle disorder called rhabdomyolysis, or rhabdo for short. Estimates suggest it may affect 22 people out of 100,000, and muscle trauma due to overexertion is a common cause. Your skeletal muscles are under your volitional control, which is why they’re also known as voluntary muscles.


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