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Boston Marathon Runner's Death Linked to Sodium Imbalance

Julie Aiello pointed out a front page article from yesterday's Boston Globe that says the Massachusetts state medical examiner ruled that a runner in the Boston Marathon died as a result of hyponatremic encephalopathy, a condition where the brain swells due to a cellualr sodium imbalance. The runner, Cynthia Lucero, is only the second participant to die in the 106-year history of the Boston Marathon. According to the article:

Although people seldom die from hyponatremic encephalopathy, health-threatening sodium deficiencies are more common among athletes than doctors once believed. {A researcher in the field} cites one study, for example, that tracked 18,000 marathoners and found that among those seeking medical care after the race, 9 percent suffered from the condition. Deaths are sufficiently rare that specialists can recount them individually.

This is an amazing article, particularly for people who like to participate in difficult sports activities such as long distance running, triathlons, and long distance cycling. Most people who do this are worried about bonking, becoming dehydrated, or developing an electrolyte imbalance. According to this article, athletes should also be worried about taking on too much liquid volume, and possibly the wrong kinds of fluid replacement drinks as well.

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