Severe non-exertional rhabdomyolysis from weight loss supplement in sickle cell trait: A perfect storm?

Titilope Olanipekun, Valery Effoe, Ganiat Adeogun, Agniezka Gaertig, Myrtle White, Matthew Haney


Exertional rhabdomyolysis from sickle cell trait has been documented. Also, cases of rhabdomyolysis from the use of weight loss supplements in the setting of sickle cell trait and exertion have been described. However, the role of sickle cell trait in non-exertional rhabdomyolysis is not clear. We present a case of severe non-exertional rhabdomyolysis from weight loss supplement in a patient with sickle cell trait.

A 45-year-old African American female with sickle cell trait presented to the emergency department with two days history of fatigue and mild breathlessness. She also reported diarrhea and vomiting for five days before presentation. She admitted to taking Garcinia cambogia (a dietary supplement) for weight loss one week prior to the onset of symptoms. She denied alcohol or drug use, rigorous physical activity or trauma.

She was dehydrated on examination. Laboratory values revealed markedly elevated serum creatine phosphokinase (CPK) and creatinine levels. Garcinia cambogia was discontinued and she was hydrated with intravenous fluids. Her CPK and creatinine levels significantly trended down and she was discharged home with no apparent sequelae.

Our patient had multiple episodes of diarrhea and vomiting likely from the use of Garcinia cambogia. We believe she suffered non-exertional rhabdomyolysis from dehydration in the setting of sickle cell trait. Though dietary weight loss supplements are marketed as generally safe, this case suggests otherwise. We emphasize that clinicians routinely inquire about use of these supplements and provide appropriate counseling to patients on the adverse effects, especially among those with sickle cell trait.

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Case Reports in Internal Medicine

ISSN 2332-7243(Print)  ISSN 2332-7251(Online)

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