Collapsed ultraendurance athlete: proposed mechanisms and an approach to management

Clin J Sport Med. 1997 Oct;7(4):292-301.


Objective: To review the common conditions causing collapse in ultraendurance athletes, to propose appropriate treatment protocols for the more common medical conditions that are encountered, and to provide practical guidelines for the management of the medical facilities at these endurance events.

Data sources: Books published on the subject, abstracts of the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Congress dealing with the subject over the last 5 years, and electronic search of the Medline and Current Contents databases (last searched May 1995). German articles were included in the search criteria.

Study selection: Articles dealing generally with the management of medical facilities at endurance events were chosen. Articles dealing more specifically with the common medical conditions encountered at these events were then sourced and included in this review.

Data extraction: Multiple reader extraction of relevant data.

Data synthesis: A practical guideline to the management of the medical facility at an endurance event is detailed, expanding specifically on the nature of the conditions causing collapse during or after endurance exercise with a proposed classification of causes of collapse for optimizing immediate management and management protocols for specific conditions such as heatstroke, hyponatremia, hypoglycemia, exercise-associated collapse, and muscle cramps.

Conclusion: The most commonly encountered medical condition at endurance athletic events is collapse after the event. The popular view that all persons who collapse have dehydration-induced hyperthermia has been challenged. Here we extend that argument and provide diagnostic and management protocols and propose a triage system that considers the most common causes of collapse in ultraendurance athletes. These protocols can optimize the efficient and safe management of large numbers of collapsed ultraendurance athletes. It is proposed that these protocols can optimize the efficient and safe management of large numbers of collapsed ultra endurance athletes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dehydration / therapy
  • Female
  • Fever / therapy
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Care Management / methods
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Running / physiology
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Triage / methods*
  • Unconsciousness / therapy*