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Runner died from rare condition while competing in Brighton Marathon
A fit and healthy marathon runner collapsed and died of an “extraordinarily rare and unusual” bowel condition, an inquest heard.
Sam Harper Brighouse, 23, collapsed around 16 miles into the Brighton Marathon, on April 14.
The biology graduate, of Forest Hill, south east London, suffered a cardiac arrest and died of “catastrophic and unsurvivable” ischemic bowel disease.
Dr Mark Taylor, consultant pathologist at Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital, said: “We know that up to half of people who run marathons develop symptoms relating to their gastro-intestines.
“They can be minor stomach cramps or diarrhoea, but on the other end of the scale, ischemic bowel can be exhibited in endurance exercise.
“When it gets to that critical stage, depending on how much of the bowel has died, depends on whether the person can survive.
“In Sam, it was catastrophic and unsurvivable.”
Medics thought Mr Harper Brighouse had suffered a heart attack and administered CPR as he lay in the road.
But it was unlikely he could have survived the condition, which causes up to 75% of blood flow to be removed from the bowel.
Dr Taylor said: “I think when someone collapses in a marathon, the most common thing to think is that they have had a heart attack.
“The initial reaction would have been to do CPR and that was started rapidly. If he had been taken to hospital immediately, might it have made a difference? I don’t think so.
“I believe all his bowel was dead at that stage and even if (medical staff) thought of ischemic bowel, it wouldn’t have been any help at all at that stage.”
Mr Harper Brighouse probably did not notice he had ischemic bowel as its “non-specific” symptoms may have led him to believe they were linked to his running.
Gastro-intestinal problems suffered by people associated with endurance sport were being increasingly examined in studies, Dr Taylor added.
The inquest is due to last until Friday.
MEDICS 'STRUGGLED TO FIND INCIDENT'
Medics struggled to find Sam Harper Brighouse who collapsed and died running the Brighton Marathon, an inquest heard.
A senior South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) officer said there was a “communication confusion” as he ran through crowds and clearer identification would have helped distinguish onsite staff.
Andrew Parker, Secamb medicines management lead and paramedic practitioner, said: “When I asked a couple of the marshals ‘Where’s the incident?’ they said ‘I don’t know’.”
A spokesman for the marathon said it would not comment until after the inquest had concluded.
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