Case study: Fatal exertional rhabdomyolysis possibly related to drastic weight cutting

Kadhiresan R. Murugappan, Michael N. Cocchi, Somnath Bose, Sara E. Neves, Charles H. Cook, Todd Sarge, Shahzad Shaefi, Akiva Leibowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Rapid weight loss or “weight cutting” is a dangerous practice that is ubiquitous in modern combat sports yet underrepresented in the medical literature. We present a case of exertional rhabdomyolysis in a mixed martial artist with sickle cell trait to illustrate the hazards of weight cutting and ensuing critical illness. Sickle cell trait is known to predispose patients to exertional rhabdomyolysis, and multiple fatal cases have been reported in the setting of strenuous exercise. Dehydration and consequent electrolyte abnormalities make combat sport athletes with sickle cell trait particularly vulnerable to this entity. This case suggests a potential role for sickle cell trait screening in this population and underscores the need for safer weight-control practices and monitoring among all combat sport athletes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-71
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Body composition
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation
  • Martial arts
  • Metabolism
  • Muscle function
  • Sickle cell trait

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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