Football prompts most heat-related hospital visits

Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:27pm EDT
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By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters Life!) - With most of United States in the midst of a hot summer, new research shows that football leads to more non-fatal, heat-related emergency room visits than any other activity.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 66 hospitals from 2001-2009 found showed that nearly one-fourth of all emergency rooms visits for a heat illness were attributed to football.

The second most common activity likely to lead to a hospital visit was exercise, including walking, jogging and calisthenics, which accounted for 20.4 percent of the estimated 5,946 annual visits.

For males between the ages of 15-19, football was linked to 57 percent of the non-fatal emergency room visits for heat illnesses, according to the study.

More than 90 percent of patients were treated at emergency rooms and released. The CDC said the study only covered non-fatal emergency room treatment and is "an underestimate of all heat illnesses."

In 2010, two high school football players died of heat stroke, according to a study for the American Football Coaches Association.

"All heat illnesses are preventable." said the CDC, which recommended that coaches schedule frequent rest breaks and encourage athletes to drink lots of fluids.

Summer sports practices should start slow and gradually increase in frequency and intensity, allowing athletes to acclimate to the heat, the study said.   Continued...