Representatives from 18 Health & Sports Medicine Groups Issue First-Ever Consensus Statement on Exertional Heat-Related Illness

Inter-Association Task Force on Exertional Heat Illnesses Offers Findings at Thursday, June 26 St. Louis Press Conference at Edward Jones Dome at America’s Center

ST. LOUIS (June 26, 2003) – With summer blazing ahead and temperatures shooting up throughout the country, the guidelines of a new consensus statement from the Inter-Association Task Force on Exertional Heat Illnesses, could not be more timely. Findings from this breakthrough report were presented this morning at a National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA)-sponsored press conference held inside the Edward Jones Dome at America’s Center. Douglas J. Casa, PhD, ATC, FACSM, who chaired the expert panel, presented highlights from the consensus statement, which was spearheaded by NATA, a national organization of certified athletic trainers. The panel, which collaborated over a period of four months, was comprised of representatives from 18 leading medical, nutrition and sports medicine-related organizations, including the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Sports Medicine and the CDC - Nutrition and Physical Activity Program. The panel’s goal was straightforward: to create a unified statement to address the basic issues related to the prevention, recognition and treatment of heat-related illnesses, and to offer guidelines which they believe will increase widespread safety standards awareness; reduce risks for both professional and recreational athletes alike; and recommend effective treatments. Every year more than 300 people die of heat-related illnesses, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many others require medical attention due to exertional heat illnesses (EHI) such as dehydration, exertional heat stroke (EHS), heat exhaustion, heat cramps and exertional hyponatremia. “The dangers associated with exercise in the heat are well documented but proper prevention, recognition and treatment strategies have not been adequately disseminated and implemented,” said Dr. Casa. “The good news is that many cases of exertional heat illness are preventable and others can be treated.” With the help of the local and national media, the Task Force committee hopes its comprehensive consensus statement, which can be seen in its entirety at, will:

  • Encourage increased and accurate education regarding heat illnesses for athletes, coaches, parents and medical staffs
  • Promote the importance of onsite medical services at various events
  • Ensure that preparticipation physical examinations have been completed, which include specific questions regarding fluid intake, weight changes during activity, medication and supplement use and history of cramping/heat illnesses
  • Help to assure that medical staffs have authority to alter work/rest ratios, practice schedules, amounts of equipment and withdrawal of individuals from participation in sports, based on heat conditions and/or athletes’ medical conditions

The Inter-Association Task Force on Exertional Heat Illnesses Consensus Statement defines and details the factors contributing to the onset of conditions such as dehydration, exertional heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and exertional hyponatremia; gives tips on how to recognize their symptoms; offers treatment procedures; and suggests when athletes can safely return to participating in sports. Mark Lamping, president of the St. Louis Cardinals, emceed the 8:00 a.m. press conference. In addition to Dr. Casa, other speakers who appeared included former Detroit Lions defensive captain (and St. Louis native) Demetrious Johnson, who spoke about how active inner city youth and elite athletes alike need to be diligent about playing it safe in the warm weather; Rick Wilkerson, DO, FAAOS, representing the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, discussed how the body “shuts down” or replenishes itself from heat, and what its impact is on bones and muscles; and Maureen Pederson, ATC, the head athletic trainer at Crystal City High School and St. Pius X High School, who explained the significance of EHI guidelines at the secondary school level. “With many heat waves ahead of us, we believe the information in the consensus statement will be extremely beneficial to active people everywhere,” said Peter J. Fowler, MD, FRCS, president, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. “Our organization is indebted to the prominent medical doctors and health professionals for their time and dedication to this important matter.” Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are medical professionals who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports the more than 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. For more information, visit Heat Illness Consensus

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