Heat Illness Risk Highest in Early Preseason College Football

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Heat Illness Risk Highest in Early Preseason College Football
Heat Illness Risk Highest in Early Preseason College Football

FRIDAY, Aug. 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- College football players face greatest risk for exertional heat illness (EHI) during the start of preseason play, according to a study published online Aug. 9 in the Journal of Athletic Training.

The current investigation looked for EHI among 366,000 cases of on-field play involving football players in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The players were from 60 colleges and universities across five regions in the United States. The researchers also looked at the impact of wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT), assessing temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle, and cloud cover to measure overall heat stress.

The study authors identified 553 EHI cases. The risk for EHI was 1.52 for every 1,000 NCAA football players. Three-quarters of the cases involved cramping, while a quarter involved a combination of heat exhaustion and/or heat-related fainting. The first 14 days of preseason play showed the highest rate of EHI, with the greatest risk during the first seven days. When WBGT increased above 82 degrees Fahrenheit, EHI risk also rose significantly.

"Sports medicine personnel should take all necessary preventive measures to reduce the EHI risk during the first 14 days of practice and when the environmental conditions are greater than 82.0 degrees Fahrenheit (27.8 degrees Celsius) WBGT," the authors conclude.

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