Public health

CrossFit linked to rhabdomyolysis spike


The increasing popularity of high-intensity resistance training in young males is being blamed for a rise in severe cases of rhabdomyolysis in Australia.

Doctors from the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Austin Health reported 34 cases of rhabdomyolysis (defined as a creatinine kinase greater than 25,000 units/L) over a one-year period.

Ten of these cases were related to high intensity exercise (HIRT) with half of the cases related specifically to CrossFit training.

The majority of the cases were in males in their late 20s to early 30s, the doctors reported in the Internal Medicine Journal.

However the highest CK value of 160,264 units/L recorded occurred in a 27 year old female who had been doing upper body weights following a sedentary lifestyle.

The doctors noted that exercise induced rhabdomyolysis tended to run a more benign course compared to cases caused by trauma, systemic illness and drugs.

None of the 10 patients experienced acute kidney injury or required intensive care admission, and all were managed conservatively with intravenous fluids.

In contrast the patients with rhabdomyolysis from other causes had higher rates of ICU admission, kidney injury and death.

“The increasing popularity of HIRT in the community raises the need for clinicians to broadly understand the principles, and potential benefits and risks,” they wrote.

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