Posted at: 07/31/2012 6:00 PM
By: Melanie Bloom
Medical Edge: Running in the Heat
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Running a marathon takes dedication and training. But sometimes no matter how much prep work you put in, external factors can ruin your run, and even make it dangerous. The excessive heat like we've seen in many places across the country is one such factor. And it's nothing to mess with, as the runner you're about to meet found out.
When I ran the race I felt good. I stayed hydrated, ran my normal pace,” said runner Kellee Moffitt. But no amount of training prepared Kellee for the temperatures that peaked 82 degrees at 8:30 in the morning. By high noon, Kellee was baking.
“About 35 feet from the finish line I collapsed,” said Kellee. Her core temperature was dangerously high at 108 degrees.
“Their body is generating a lot of heat when they're out there running,” said Walter Taylor, M.D. of Mayo Clinic Family Medicine.
Dr. Walter Taylor staffs the medical tent at The 26.2 With Donna, the National Marathon To Finish Breast Cancer. He says runners with symptoms like Kellee's - high temps, confusion, passing out - likely have heat stroke.
“We try to reduce their temperature down to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, give the IV fluids and then ship them off to the emergency room,” said Dr. Taylor.
They soaked Kellee in an ice bath to try to lower her dangerously high temperature.
“They stripped me down, put me in the ice bath, took my temperature and started IV fluid resuscitation,” said Kellee.
On top of heat stroke, Kellee developed a condition called rhabdomyalysis. It can happen when there is major insult to your muscles. They start to break down and release a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. This protein can damage the kidneys, and it can also block the conduits that produce urine. Plus, damaged muscles swell and become a reservoir for fluid, causing dehydration and further insult to the kidneys.
Treatment is to administer fluids to counteract dehydration and to help flush out the poisons.
“Basically all your muscle fibers break down so I was extremely sore,” said Kellee.
After her stay in the hospital, it took about 12 weeks for her to feel normal again. She still runs for fun, but not in races and not when temperatures soar.
Heat stroke is much more common than rhabdomyolysis, and it's important to know the signs and symptoms. High body temperature, nausea, vomiting, lack of sweating, fast heart and or breathing rates and confusion are all signs of heat stroke. If this happens, call 9-1-1 and get the person in a cool shaded area, mist them with water and apply icepacks to their neck, armpits and groin until help arrives.