High School Heatstroke Mostly in Football

ATLANTA, Aug. 19 (UPI) — High school athletes are sidelined 9,000 days a year, with football in August accounting for most heat-related illness, U.S. health officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released Thursday, finds health-related illnesses were most likely to occur during football practice, not during a game, and were more likely to occur among overweight athletes. The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research says that since 1995, 31 high-school football players have died from heat stroke.

“Heat-related illnesses — heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke — are a medical emergency that in the absence of prompt intervention can lead to loss of consciousness, or more permanent serious medical conditions such as neurologic, cardiac, renal, gastrointestinal, hematologic, or muscle dysfunction and subsequently death,” the report says. “Coaches can help by making sure student athletes have time to get used to hot weather, increasing practice duration and intensity gradually over a 14-day period.”

Coaches and trainers should ensure athletes drink plenty of water and sports beverages to replace water and salt, and give breaks when needed, health officials say.

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