Heat injuries have become a considerable health risk for sport and exercise participants in Australia. This study seeks to update the Australian sports case numbers by considering data from hospital admission and emergency department (ED) presentations (collectively referred to as total hospitalisations). Specifically, this study aimed to report epidemiological features (incidence and case characteristics) for sport related heat injury (SRHI) cases treated in hospital, over an 11-year period in Victoria, Australia.
Analysis of administrative health data.
Data were extracted from the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit for hospital admissions and ED presentations separately using diagnosis and activity codes (focused on subgroups of T67 - effects of heat and light and U5000-U7100). Descriptive data were reported by age, sex, financial year and activity, and population trends reported for SRHI incidence rate.
A total of 323 SRHI cases (ED=142, 44%; admissions=181, 56%) were identified, representing 10.2% of all heat injury cases (non-sport cases=2834). The highest number of SRHI cases were in golf (n=43, 13.3%) and lawn bowls (n=38, 11.8%). The age groups >65 and 15-34years reported a total of 114 cases (35.3%) and 106 cases (32.8%), respectively.
Findings were consistent with previous Australian studies with SRHI comprising 10% of all heat injury cases. Strategies for SRHI awareness can be aimed at the age and sport groups with greater representation in the cases identified. We had expected several-times more ED presentations than admissions, suggesting fewer of the mild-moderate cases of SRHI attend for emergency care and that alternative data are needed to capture these.