Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke

The most severe heat-related condition is heat stroke. This condition involves a breakdown of the body’s heat regulation mechanism resulting in a dangerously high core temperature. The most notable symptoms of heat stroke are hot and red-colored skin.4 Commonly a strong and rapid pulse is present, with a high chance of unconsciousness or mental confusion . It is a common misconception that an athlete will first suffer from heat exhaustion before heat stroke. Although this can occur, it is not always the case and the sports medicine staff should always be looking for the signs and symptoms of heat stroke in any athlete exercising in the heat. When heat stroke develops, it is critical that the body be cooled down immediately. The athlete should be moved out of the sun, and excessive clothing should be removed at once. Cooling may be initiated with fans or ice towels, although a more effective and faster means of cooling is to place the athlete in a pool or tub of cool water. Heat stroke is a true medical emergency that can result in death if not treated with urgency. Athletes suffering from heat stroke should be immediately cooled down, then transported to an emergency care facility via ambulance.

Prevention of Heat-Related Emergenices

Initial prevention measures when considering heat illness emergencies involve the recognition of all environmental

factors and being able to implement an on-site emergency action plan (EAP). The EAP should address the prevention and recognition of heat-related emergencies and then a plan of action to evaluate and treat the affected athlete.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke

■ Athlete has an increased core body temperature of more than 104°F.

■ Athlete has hot and dry/wet skin.

■ Athlete’s skin is red.

■ Athlete’s pulse is strong and rapid (110–120 bpm).

■ Athlete may be weak and nauseated.

■ Athlete’s mental status is altered or athlete exhibits irrational behavior.

■ Athlete may be unconscious.

Treatment of Heat Stroke

■ Move the athlete out of the sun.

■ Check and monitor all vital signs.

■ Measure core body temperature (rectal is most accurate).

■ Assess cognitive function.

■ Activate emergency action plan.

■ Remove all excess clothing.

■ Lower the core body temperature as quickly as possible.

■ Immerse body in pool or tub of cool water.

■ Manage airway if athlete is unconscious.

■ Transport to emergency care facility as quickly as possible.

 Athletic trainers and other health-care providers must be prepared to respond in a quick and appropriate manner

to alleviate symptoms and minimize the chance of heatrelated death. The EAP will prepare all involved in the

proper management of all heat-related emergencies. Ways to prevent heat-related emergencies in athletics

include the following :

1. Ensure that appropriate medical personnel (athletic trainers) are present at all sporting events. This

includes practices and games.

2. Conduct an approved pre-participation physical examination on all athletes to acquire information

about those athletes that may be predisposed to heat illness.

3. Educate athletes and coaches regarding recognition and care of heat illness and the risks associated

with playing in the heat and humidity.

4. Develop practice and game guidelines for hot and humid weather using the heat index table (Table 8-1).

5. Measure factors of heat and humidity by determining the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) using

a sling psychrometer before and during all outdoor sporting events

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