High Heat And Humidity A Deadly Mix In Sports

During Monday’s high heat and humidity a Staten Island high school football player died, shortly after running sprints at practice. This type of scenario is all too familiar, says a New York adolescent medicine specialist.

“Every year you have a few of these deaths,” said Ronald Feinstein, MD, program director for Weight Management for Children and Adolescents at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. “When you have high heat and high humidity, it’s bad.”

Two weeks ago, a Florida teen died while playing in full gear in humid, 85-degree weather. 

“Under these weather conditions, I think we have to be extremely cautious and careful of when we expect people to exercise,” said Dr. Feinstein.

While autopsy results on the Staten Island defensive tackle may take a while, Dr. Feinstein said the cause is likely either heat stroke or a sudden, unexpected cardiac death caused by a previously unidentified heart problem. 

Factors that may have contributed to his death, if it turns out to be heat stroke, include the teen’s weight, which was purported to be about 300 pounds, if he had sickle cell anemia and if he was dehydrated.

“Some young athletes of his size could lose up to 6 to 10 liters of fluid just participating in sports,” said Dr. Feinstein.

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