Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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High dose of Lasix paralyses bodybuilder

After taking part in a competition, a professional Austrian bodybuilder, who we'll refer to as Mr BB, felt tired for the rest of the day. He went to bed early that evening and fell asleep. He woke a little later to discover to his horror that he could hardly move.

The 26-year-old man managed to get out of bed, but when he tried to walk he fell over. A neighbour heard the noise and called an ambulance, which rushed Mr BB to the Vienna General Hospital.

Of course, Mr BB had been using steroids, including growth hormone, thyroid hormone and fast-acting insulin. But the substance that felled him was the diuretic furosemide [structural formula shown below], the active ingredient in Lasix. The bodybuilder had taken the stuff for the first time in his life; both 48 and 24 hours before the competition he'd taken a dose of 80 mg and claimed he had lost 5-6 kg as a result.

William Llewellyn's Anabolics says 80 mg is the highest dose taken in bodybuilding circles. It also says that first tume users should not take more than 20-40 mg Lasix.

Mr. BB


Llewellyn stresses that furosemide is a risky substance. The compound boosts the elimination of the electrolytes potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. The elimination of potassium in particular is a source of concern.

If muscles don't have enough potassium available, they can no longer function properly. In extreme cases the heart muscle or respiratory muscles give up. By the way: too much potassium is in this respect just as dangerous as too little potassium.

In the hospital the doctors discovered that Mr BB's paralysis was indeed caused by a dangerously low potassium level. The blood concentration of potassium should be between 3.6 and 5.2 mmol. Mr BB's level was 1.6. The doctors put him on a potassium drip to restore the level.

High dose of Lasix paralyses bodybuilder

The next morning Mr BB was allowed home. He was discharged quickly, but that doesn't mean you should take this side effect of furosemide lightly. If Mr BB's neighbour hadn't phoned for help quickly the bodybuilder would be pushing up the daisies by now.

"Although the extent of diuretic misuse in professional bodybuilding is unknown, it may be regarded as substantial", the doctors write. "Hence, diuretics must always be considered as a cause of hypokalemic paralysis in bodybuilders."

Am J Emerg Med. 2011 Aug 24. [Epub ahead of print].