What is swimming-induced pulmonary edema?  Researchers warn of ‘under-reported’ condition

What is swimming-induced pulmonary edema? Researchers warn of ‘under-reported’ condition

What is swimming-induced pulmonary edema?  Researchers warn of ‘under-reported’ condition


  • SIPE was first reported decades ago, but it still remains “underreported”
  • This is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs “in the absence of water aspiration” during swimming
  • The risk of recurrence is said to be common

Do you like open water swimming? In this case, you absolutely must be aware of an “underreported” condition associated with the activity.

In a report published in BMJ Case Reports, doctors described the case of a ‘fit and healthy’ woman who experienced a swimming hazard that few open water swimmers may be. aware.

Swimming-induced pulmonary edema (SIPE) is a subtype of immersion pulmonary edema (IPE) that is characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the lungs “in the absence of water aspiration during swimming. swimming,” the researchers explained. In other words, the lungs fill with water even though it is not inhaled.

The condition was first reported in 1989, but has remained “underreported” with incidence rates between 1.1% and 1.8%. The researchers say there is “a growing body of evidence for an association” between open water swimming and SIPE.

“Risk factors for the development of SIPE include older age, female gender, hypertension, long distances, colder water temperature, and pre-existing heart disease,” the researchers wrote.

It also “occurs frequently” in people considered to be “fit and healthy”. The condition is likely caused by increased pressure from exertion and immersion in cold temperatures.

The woman in the latest case report was 50 years old and had no notable medical history. She was an “avid competitive long-distance swimmer and triathlete”. She began experiencing symptoms after swimming in open water at 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The woman said she began to hyperventilate and realized she “couldn’t swim anymore” during an overnight swim. Fortunately, she was able to call for help.

“When I came out I undid my suit and immediately felt my lungs fill with fluid. I started coughing and there was a metallic taste in my mouth,” he said. she stated. “I was very lucky to be surrounded by a great career team who all knew I had SIPE.”

The woman was taken to the emergency room. Tests revealed she had a case of EPI with fluid buildup in her heart muscle.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first published evidence of myocardial edema characterized using MRI in the setting of EPI,” the research team wrote.

It is possible that pre-existing myocarditis contributed to the illness, although it could also be an acute episode, the researchers said, noting that the woman received a booster of the COVID-19 vaccine for just six hours. before swimming. However, they said it was “unrelated” to the incident.

Dr Peter Wilmshurst, the person who first described EPI in the 1980s, agreed with this, saying the woman was unlikely to have the disease from the vaccination, said reported The Guardian. Wilmshurst was not part of the team that prepared the latest report.

The woman’s symptoms reportedly disappeared around two hours after she arrived at the hospital, according to the BMJ. She was released the next morning. She is “fine” despite being “advised of precautions” if she wants to continue swimming in open water.

She had no other symptoms and is “back in full training”.

The condition may not be as rare as people think, Wilmshurst said, noting that one in 20 men report it during selection for the Navy Seals and one in 200 attendees at the annual Vansbro Swim in Sweden – the “second largest race in the world”. suffer from it.

So far, there are “no official national medical guidelines regarding the recognition and management of this complex disease,” the researchers said. For now, experts advise swimmers to be more aware of symptoms and to avoid swimming alone in open water. Those with symptoms should get out of the water immediately and seek medical attention, dive medicine specialist Dr Doug Watts told The Guardian.

Also, it may not be a one-time episode, as recurrence is said to be quite “common”. Among swimmers and scuba divers, for example, the rates are 13% to 22%, which people who have experienced this should keep in mind.


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