Recent medical research alerts open water swimmers and event organisers to the risk of potentially fatal fluid in the lungs.
Cardiologists are warning triathletes, event organisers and medical workers to be aware of the rising incidence of potentially fatal pulmonary oedema during open water swims. The condition causes an excess collection of watery fluid in the lungs.
Researchers at the Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, warn that swimming-induced pulmonary oedema (SIPO) is easy to mis-diagnose because the important risk factors are a highly trained individual, strenuous swimming, hypertension and cold water.
Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness and respiratory crackles. “If an accurate diagnosis and appropriate advice are not given, swimmers are at increased risk of future life-threatening episodes and drowning,” said Dr David MacIver from Musgrove Park.
Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, his team of cardiologists suggest SIPO arises as a consequence of a mis-match between the stroke volume of the heart’s right and left ventricles. This results in an accumulation of fluid in the lungs. If correctly diagnosed, SIPO is swiftly treatable, with sufferers recovering within the day.