Death of KSU football player serves as reminder heat can be dead - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Death of KSU football player serves as reminder heat can be deadly

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It seems as though each year there is at least one story of an athlete succumbing to the heat.  

This year, that reality played out just down the street at Kent State University.  

Freshman football player Tyler Heintz collapsed during conditioning drills last Tuesday and later died at a local hospital.

"This can happen in healthy individuals.  Typically, we see it more frequently in the offensive, defensive lineman; the bigger guys, the ones that may have to exert themselves a little bit more," said Dr. Jeffrey Johnston with Mercy Health.

The Portage County coroner's preliminary report points to the heat, specifically hyperthermia, as the potential cause of death of Heintz. 

Hyperthermia is when the body's temperature elevates but is unable to be lowered on its own.  The condition is often accompanied by excessive sweating, an accelerated heart rate, nausea, and exhaustion.

"We see these typically early in the season, the first couple of weeks of practice when athletes aren't acclimated to the temperature," said Dr. Johnston.

Back in 2015, the National Athletic Trainers Association updated its position on heat-related illness suggesting athletes must gradually be acclimated to the heat over a seven to 14 day period.  The association recommended progressively increasing the intensity and duration of physical activity while phasing in protective equipment like helmets and chest pads.

"During the season, once you are more acclimated to this, you can obviously tolerate more than coming right out of the gate and conditioning full go," said Dr. Johnston.

Dr. Johnston says knowing the signs of heat illness, staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet and sidelining yourself when the heat becomes too much are the best ways to protect yourself.

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