For heat stroke victims, cool first, then transport

June 27, 2014 by Brenda Goodman, Healthday Reporter
For heat stroke victims, cool first, then transport
New guidelines stress the importance of immediate cooling for athletes.

(HealthDay)—As the hottest months of the year approach, experts are urging coaches and paramedics to change how they treat athletes suffering from heat stroke.

New guidelines released Friday by the National Athletic Trainer's Association (NATA) say victims need immediate cooling before they are taken to a hospital.

"We're trying to get people to realize that's how you save people's lives from heat stroke," said Douglas Casa, director of athletic training education at the University of Connecticut.

"That's a paradigm shift in medicine. Heat stroke is the only medical condition that you can think of where we're telling people to treat the person first on site before you transfer them to the hospital," said Casa, who is also the chief operating officer of the Korey Stringer Institute.

Korey Stringer was an NFL player for the Minnesota Vikings who collapsed and died from heat stroke in 2001 during a preseason practice. His wife donated money she received in a settlement from the NFL to start a foundation aimed at saving others from his fate.

In heat stroke, a person's rises above 104 degrees. Their skin feels hot, and their behavior is altered. They may seem agitated, aggressive or confused. They could also experience a headache, nausea or vomiting, according to NATA.

Casa says that if you can get a person's core temperature down within 30 minutes of their collapse, you can save their life. But too often, the wait for an ambulance and ride to the hospital delays this cooling.

He recommends that all high school teams keep an inexpensive Rubbermaid tub filled with ice and water on the sidelines for players who get into trouble during practice. So far, only one state, Arkansas, has mandated use of such immersion tubs. Arkansas' mandate was prompted by recent heat stroke deaths.

Exertional heat stroke is heat stroke that strikes after physical activity, and it typically affects people who labor in the heat like farmworkers and highway crew members. It also strikes athletes going into intense preseason practices who may not be used to sizzling summer temperatures, according to the NATA.

"A lot of the high school sports programs are getting more and more serious. A lot of times they mimic college programs, but a lot of time they don't have the safety precautions in place," Casa said.

And Casa says modern life means many kids spend their summer in the comfort of air conditioning before hitting record hot temperatures for hours at a stretch.

"These are kids who are never outside during the summer time. They're not heat-acclimatized. They live completely and do most of their working out in air-conditioned environments. So when they take the field in August, it's their first warm weather workout in the last 11 months," he said.

In addition to the 'cool first, transport second' rule, the new guidelines urge coaches to start preseason workouts slowly, in minimal gear, allowing for frequent water breaks to reduce the chances of heat emergencies.

And there are some new technologies coming that may one day help athletes beat punishing temperatures, such as special gloves and shirts to help control body temperatures.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut tested the effects of a new hand-cooling gloves. Thirteen healthy males in their 20s walked quickly on a treadmill in full football gear for 90 minutes.

Every 15 minutes or so, some of the volunteers took a break to wear the new hand cooling gloves. The devices, really more like rubber sleeves, have a vacuum pump to help bring blood to the surface of the skin while cold water circulates through the sleeve to cool it. They wore the gloves for three minutes at a stretch. The study was designed to mimic the kind of breaks athletes might get on the playing field.

At the end of the session, the men who had worn the cooling gloves had core body temperatures that were lower than the men who hadn't had any cooling. The results were strongest in guys who'd also received replacement fluids during their hand-cooling sessions.

"We saw a whole degree Fahrenheit of difference between the hand-cooling with fluid group and the control group," said lead researcher Michael Sundeen, who is now an assistant athletic trainer for the Denver Broncos. He was a graduate student at the University of Connecticut at the time of the study.

"That's pretty significant in the realm of performance," Sundeen said, noting that men who'd done the hand-cooling scored about 8 percent better on measures of performance than those who had not.

Another study tested the effects of a special shirt that circulates cold water over the torso through sewn-in tubes. Compared to a cotton t-shirt, the cooling shirt didn't lower core body temperature, but it did reduce how much water athletes lost through sweat, which study authors think might help people better withstand hot weather workouts.

The new research, along with the new guidelines, were to be presented Friday at the National Athletic Trainers Association annual meeting in Indianapolis. Findings presented at meetings are viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Explore further: Heat stroke and exercising in the summer

More information: For more information on exertional heat stroke, visit The Kory Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut.

Related Stories

Heat stroke and exercising in the summer

August 23, 2011
Heat-related illness accounts for about 700 deaths a year and is the nation’s No. 1 weather-related killer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The dangers of heat stroke are especially prevalent ...

Ways to avoid heat stroke

June 24, 2014
Having some fun in the sun is typically a popular summer activity, but it can also be dangerous.

Study shows high school athletes suffer from preventable heat illnesses

September 10, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Two new studies on heat exertion among high school football players show only 2.5 percent of certified athletic trainers surveyed complied with national guidelines aimed at limiting heat-related illness.

UGA heat study guides new GHSA rules aiming to prevent exertional heat illness, deaths

March 22, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- High school student-athletes need about 10-14 days to acclimate their bodies to the heat stress in preseason practices in late July and August each year and gradual acclimatization to these conditions ...

Awareness is key to preventing heat- and cold-induced athletic injuries

December 3, 2012
Extreme heat or cold can cause dangerous and potentially fatal side effects in athletes. A literature review appearing in the December 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) provides ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.