Bodybuilder died due to over exertion, Inquest finds

Galwayman died after gym session lifting weights.
Galwayman died after gym session lifting weights.

A 24 years-old bodybuilder died when he suffered a bleed on the brain when a blood vessel burst due to over exertion, an Inquest into his death heard.

David Keane, from Glen Dara, Rahoon, had complained of “the worst headache in the world” before leaving his gym on the evening of February 4 last year.

He had suffered a one-in-100,000 chance of a spontaneous bleed due to a rigorous activity – the few incidents that have occurred were among, otherwise healthy, weightlifters and elite athletes.

John Thomas, owner of the Warehouse Gym in Mervue, recalled that the young man had approached him asking for a pain killer for a thumping headache. He had not wanted to go to hospital, but asked that his mother, Siobhan, be contacted instead.

Mr Thomas walked David to his mother’s car when she arrived, and recalled that the last thing he had said was: “I don’t want to lose my (muscle) gains, can I come back tomorrow?”

His mother told the inquiry that he would go to the gym purely to get fit and stay healthy.

“He wanted his six-pack,” she said.

The Inquest at Galway Courthouse heard that he was unarousable by the time she got him home, and an ambulance was called. However, by the time he arrived at UHG his Glasgow Coma Scale – used to determine the level of consciousness – was just three out of 15. A CT scan showed a fatal brain haemorrhage, and his family made the decision to harvest his remaining organs.

Consultant pathologist, Dr Mary Casey said that she had never come across a case such as this – the unusual nature of spontaneous haemorrhage due to rigorous activity, particularly from weightlifting, was confirmed by the lack of medical literature available.

She said that this can happen when the neck is manipulated by certain exercises, or interferes with the blood vessels or bony anatomy in that part of the body.

“There are limited reports, but it is documented, and some are caused by weightlifting. It can happen to elite athletes taking anabolic steroids – there is no evidence that David was taking them, but I needed to exclude them.”

Coroner for West Galway, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence that death was due to a subarachnoid haemorrhage during weight lifting.

Dr MacLoughlin also paid tribute to Mr Keane, who worked as a sales assistant in Mr Price, and his family for donating his organs.

“On behalf of people unknown to me, who have been recipients of his organs, somebody is walking along today – probably in very good health, because of your generosity,” he concluded.

Coroner for West Galway, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence that death was due to a subarachnoid haemorrhage during weight lifting.
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