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Coroner warns 16 million full face snorkeling mask buyers from Decathlon after 63-year-old swimmer dies – WhatsNew2Day


The coroner has warned that “millions” of people could be at risk of popular snorkeling masks sold by retailers such as Decathlon after the death of a British holidaymaker in Egypt.

Experienced diver Angela Kern, who suffered from high blood pressure, collapsed and died at a Red Sea resort after experiencing difficulties while using equipment from the sports retail giant, an inquest said.

A hearing of Kern’s death found that she had suffered from immersive pulmonary edema—a buildup of fluid in her lungs—as the mask contributed to an increase in negative pressure in her lungs.

The inquest was told that the 63-year-old had recently been diagnosed with hypertension – high blood pressure – and was taking hormone replacement therapy to relieve symptoms of menopause.

Unbeknownst to her, this left her vulnerable to using a face mask – something not made clear on the packaging from the mask manufacturers.

A 63-year-old woman died of engulfing pulmonary edema with an investigation finding her choice of mask was a factor in her death (Stock Image)

Now, Assistant Coroner in Surrey Caroline Topping has written to the General Medical Council, National Trading Standards and Decathlon UK to express concern about the threat these masks pose and not disclose this to the 16 million people who have bought one.

In the Preventing Future Deaths report, she wrote: ‘What is troubling is that millions of full-face masks have been sold, and safety concerns about their use by those with cardiovascular and respiratory problems have not been widely publicized or brought to the public’. Attention those who already own masks.

“Those purchased prior to 2017 received no warning regarding these matters and the warning in the instructions from 2017 to the interior was neither prominent nor sufficient to alert prospective purchasers to the now-identified risks of use.”

Ms Kern had used Decathlon’s Easybreath full face diving apparatus for five years before her death, but on January 13, 2020, had difficulty, the hearing was told.

She was brought back to the beach where she unfortunately collapsed and later died at the Nile Hospital in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.

“She developed immersive pulmonary edema,” Mrs. Topping continued.

High blood pressure, hormone replacement therapy, and use of a full face mask contributed to the death.

Expert evidence at the inquest identified immersive pulmonary edema as the cause of death.

This is caused by a buildup of fluid in the lungs as a result of the increased pressure of the pulmonary capillaries due to the water pressure when the chest is immersed.

This is exacerbated by high blood pressure and hormone replacement therapy.

Negative pressure in the lungs causes fluid to be drawn from the blood vessels into the lungs.

She explained that the mask “contributed” to death in two ways, adding: (First), because the negative pressure in the lungs increases as a result of the increased breathing effort caused by inhalation through the tube and mask.

“And because respiratory effort is increased by inhaling elevated levels of carbon dioxide due to inhalation of air drawn through the dead space in the mask.”

Dead space is the volume of air that is inhaled that does not participate in gas exchange, which means that not all of the air in each breath is available for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

“Both of these exacerbate negative pressure in the lungs and increase the effects of immersive pulmonary edema,” added Ms. Topping.

She went on to highlight her concerns: ‘Concerns have been raised by medical witnesses that there is very little awareness of immersive pulmonary edema in the medical profession, that it is not addressed in medical training and, as a result, that it can be missed by those treating the condition and often gets it wrong. in drowning.

She explained that when the Easybreath mask was made by Decathlon, there were no European or UK standards, and the company admitted that the test “did not replicate the conditions for mask use by the general public.”

As of 2015, the instructions read in small print: “You must ensure that you are in good physical shape before diving and that the mask is not suitable for swimming.”

A medical report was made to investigate whether breathing through the mask resulted in “excessive carbon dioxide inhalation”.

“We strongly recommend against wearing Easybreath masks for people with underlying heart and respiratory conditions,” the report said in conclusion.

Decathlon has since modified its instructions for use on the easybreath surface mask (pictured)

Decathlon has since modified its instructions for use on the easybreath surface mask (pictured)

Decathlon has since amended its instructions for use to warn against use if the user has unstable heart and respiratory conditions, that the mask should be used under submaximal exercise conditions (light to moderate) and that it is not suitable for active swimming.

The company has also updated their UK website to include the following: ‘This product is not recommended if you have any ongoing respiratory or cardiovascular problems including but not limited to chest infection, asthma and high/high blood pressure (hypertension). blood), heart disease or angina pectoris, etc.

If you have any doubts or questions regarding this, please see your doctor.

The same additional wording is translated and added to all company websites.

A move is being made to the UK standard for full face masks, but Ms Topping warned this “will take some time”.

This report represents the most recent intervention on this type of respirator. In 2021, a Hampshire coroner said there were “universal concerns” about them following the death of John Pazzoni during a Christmas trip to Australia.

The 56-year-old – who had heart problems – bought a mask from the now sleepy Gofun, before running into difficulties because the mask restricted his oxygen supply.

“In my opinion, there is a risk of future fatalities unless action is taken,” Ms. Topping concluded in her report, requesting a response from GMS, NTS and Decathlon by May 9.

“Your response should contain details of actions taken or proposed to be taken, specifying the timeline for action,” she said. “Otherwise, you must explain why no action is suggested.”

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