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Shocking story of how fit 23-year-old worked out so vigorously it brought on a deadly rare illness

A glamorous CrossFitter has been left battling a deadly rare illness brought on by excessive training in the gym. 

Kiana Alvarez, 23, was experiencing ‘super-intense’ pain and struggling to breathe when she sought medical help after a ‘really, really hard workout’ days before.

The glamorous make-up artist thought she had strained herself during a 90 minute workout, but soon found herself unable to stand up straight or take a full breath. 

She was eventually diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis – a rare and potentially life-threatening syndrome which breaks down muscles and destroys the hosts kidneys. 

Ms Alvarez only heard of ‘rhabdo’ once before when her US bodybuilding and CrossFitting idol, Dana Linn Bailey, shared her experience with the condition online.

She shared her diagnosis with her 2million Instagram follows in April 2019 after doing a three-round, two minute per station workout, which involved GHD (glute-ham-developer) sit-ups.

‘I’m an athlete and I’m also super competitive with myself, so of course I’m going to push myself as hard as I possibly can. I just didn’t know that something like this could even happen. I ACTUALLY OVERTRAINED. It’s actually kinda a real thing, who Fxcking knew!!! Lol,’ Linn Bailey posted.

‘I didn’t realise there was anything wrong until about five days later. To me it just felt like a really good cardio workout.

‘I think I even trained legs after that workout, and I also trained the rest of the week’.

Just like Linn Bailey, Ms Alvarez discovered her creatine kinase levels in her blood – which is released when cells are damaged – were dangerously high after convincing the doctors to test her for ‘rhabdo’. 

‘I hassled the doctors to test me for it when they didn’t know what else could be wrong,’ she told the Saturday Telegraph. 

Ms Alvarez said the creatine kinase levels were about 40 times the normal level – about 10,000 instead of 200 and ‘all they could do was pump me with IV fluids’.

Rhabdo causes kidney failure and heart damage, and is often seen in military recruits and athletes who continue to exert themselves past the point of fatigue.  

Maureen Brogan, an associate professor of medicine at New York Medical College said 91 per cent of her rhabdo patients were athletes participating in highly repetitive exercise with no prior experience.

‘So even if you were a different type of athlete like a runner, and then you switch to biking and use quadriceps and gluteus maximus muscles at an intense rate – that first time, you may be at risk of getting rhabdo,’ she said in The American Journal of Medicine, according to Australian Men’s Health.

‘Those are the patients that were most at risk because they may not be conditioned and are using and engaging new muscle groups for the first time at an intense rate’.  

Rhabdo is usually diagnosed in a hospital and treated with intravenous fluids to help produce enough urine and prevent kidney failure, according to the Australian Government.

Ms Alvarez said she was not drinking enough water prior to her diagnosis, and she ‘always trained before eating in the morning’ and ‘was ­really dehydrated’. 

‘They started to die. That’s what happens; it kills your muscles slowly and the fluid leaks into your kidneys and liver,’ she told the Saturday Telegraph.

Ms Alvarez warned others about the dangers of over training, saying being diagnosed with rhabdo could ‘happen to anyone, not just bodybuilders and CrossFitters’.

‘Over-training is a thing – I didn’t even know that,’ she added.

‘I got the all clear to go back into training so knowing me I’m straight back into the gym but just taking it easy for now.’ 

Daily Mail Australia reached out to Ms Alvarez for comment. 

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