Tuesday 16 July 2019

Woman (63) collapsed due to dehydration after using sauna

Stock image Photo: Getty
Stock image Photo: Getty

Louise Roseingrave

Dehydration was a factor in the death of a 63-year-old woman who collapsed after using the sauna.

Elizabeth Mullen from Lombard Court, City Quay, Dublin 2 was a regular user of the pool, sauna and steam room at Club Vitae Health and Fitness in Dublin’s Docklands. Mrs Mullen went to aqua aerobics at the club three times per week, her long term partner Walter Kelly told the court.

“She would spend about three hours there. She would go to the sauna and steam room and then join the other woman in the pool. It was a regular thing for her,” Mr Kelly said.

On December 22 2015 Mrs Mullen told staff at the facility that she was not feeling her best and would not join the pool class that day.

“She said she would give it a miss and use the sauna and steam room,” fitness instructor Ciaran Ryan told the court. Around 3.45pm, he was at the reception desk with another staff member when Mrs Mullen approached the desk and spoke to them.

“Then all of a sudden she fell back and banged her head on the floor tiles,” Mr Ryan said.

He checked her vital signs and found her breathing faint. She was not responsive. Staff called an ambulance.

The woman was rushed to St Vincent’s Hospital where doctors found she was suffering a cardiac arrest on arrival. Efforts were made to fit a pacemaker but this failed and Mrs Mullen suffered another cardiac arrest. She was pronounced dead at 8.55pm.

She had been taking medication for asthma and low blood pressure and had a high level of potassium in her blood as a result of the medication, the inquest heard. The use of the sauna drove her potassium levels higher, the court heard. In addition, she was suffering from a chest infection.

An inquest into her death at Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that she sustained a cut to the scalp in the fall but there were no fractures or brain injuries.

The cause of death was cardiac arrest due to metabolic disturbance due to dehydration, medication and acute bronchitis, according to Pathologist Dr Deirdre Timlin.

The coroner returned a verdict of death by natural causes.

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