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Posted at 8:16 AM ET, 12/10/2010

Martina Navratilova abandons climb of Kilimanjaro because of illness

By Cindy Boren

(Karel Prinsloo / AP)

Updated at 11:35 a.m.

Martina Navratilova was forced to abandon her Mount Kilimanjaro climb today after becoming ill with high altitude pulmonary edema.

Navratilova, who was climbing Africa's highest peak to raise awareness for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, was taken to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, then to Nairobi Hospital.

"Basically this is fluid in the lungs related to high altitude. It is potentially dangerous when someone is at high altitude, but once brought down, recovery is quick," Dr. David Silverstein, a consultant in cardiology and internal medicine at Nairobi Hospital, said in a statement released by Laureus. "Martina is doing well and will continue to do well. Treatment is to remove the fluid through diuretics and to make the patient more comfortable with oxygen. She will spend two to three days in hospital. There will be no effects to long term health and patients get back to full fitness in due course. Martina's acute condition is not reflective of her health or fitness. It occurs in some people in conditions of low oxygen."

Navratilova said, in a statement: "I'm disappointed not to be able to complete this amazing journey. It was something that I have wanted to do for so long, but it was not to be. I am so pleased that we got it going and I will be watching and waiting for news from the climb when they reach the summit tomorrow (Sat). I didn't make it, but I think it has been a great success as we have raised funds and awareness for the work that Laureus does."

She and a 26-person team began climbing the 19,340-foot mountain Monday and were enveloped in mists and heavy snows. "The weather is a little better, but the going is getting tougher and tougher," Navratilova blogged Thursday. "It seems to be constantly steep and as we started to approach the highest point yet, 4,500 meters [14,765 feet] above sea level, sheer exhaustion sets in for much of the group, and with heavy legs and chests pounding due to a lack of oxygen, every step becomes an effort."

Although Navratilova lives in Aspen, Colo., she said last week that she had never climbed above 12,000 feet and that she was "petrified" of failing to complete the climb "because then the whole world will know."

"It's just a basic hike except you get to be pretty high and there's not much air up there, but it doesn't require much mountain climbing experience," Navratilova said then.

By Cindy Boren  | December 10, 2010; 8:16 AM ET
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Snow Shadow Gym High Altitude Cross-Training sends a Healthy Blessing to Ms. Navratilova. "Just trying this climb a virtue of sucsess". I have been researching "health benefits of training in a pristene natural high altitude mountain environment" for the past 17 years. This is a sport in itself. High Altitude Sickness is an illusive condition, effecting an individual one day and not the next. I have commited myself to prusue this questionable condition to help and aid others with health benefits and precautions for safe climbs and sport activities. Please send a message when your safely rested and ready.
Coach Kirk SSGHACT Director
Love All

Posted by: snowshadowgymnastics | December 10, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Travelers vary considerably in their susceptibility to altitude illness, and there are currently no screening tests that predict whether someone is at greater risk of getting altitude illness. Past experience is the most reliable guide; susceptibility to altitude illness appears to be genetic, and is not affected by training or physical fitness.

Once a person has suffered from HAPE, s/he has a 60% chance of having it again, unless s/he takes preventive medication before the climb.

Posted by: plurie | December 10, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Snow Shadow Gymnastics High Altitude Cross-Training is located in Montrose, Colorado. The "1st Women's Gymnastics High Altitude Cross-Training Program in N. America. Established in 1994 in pursuit of health benefits while training in a natural high altitude enviornment.
SSGHACT Research Dept.

Posted by: snowshadowgymnastics | December 10, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

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