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Marion Barber III's death serving as a reminder as temperatures rise

HCMC's Dr. James Miner explains what to keep an eye on as Minnesota continues its march toward summer heat.

MINNEAPOLIS — News of former Gopher football star and Dallas Cowboy Marion Barber III's death sent shockwaves through the sports world in early June, and his newly released cause of death is now serving as a reminder for others. 

The Collin County, Texas medical examiner ruled 38-year-old Barber's death "accidental" due to a heat stroke. 

The autopsy report reveals police found Barber in an empty shower in his apartment. 

At the time, Frisco, Texas Police say his thermostat was set at 91 degrees and the heater was on, with exercise equipment present.  

Officials say he had a known history of exercising in sauna-like conditions, something HCMC's Dr. James Miner says is very concerning. 

"Professional athletes have specific regimens that have gotten them to the elite level that they're at, that I can't comment on, but for most of us it's really not a good idea," said Dr. Miner, HCMC's Chair of Emergency Medicine, and Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School. 

He went on to explain, "when people exercise in heat, however, they'll notice their weight goes down really fast and that's all water so you get on the scale after exercising in an outfit that's really heavy or in a hot room, you'll be like woah, I just lost 10lbs, but as soon as you drink a few glasses of water that's going to be right back on you. That's not weight loss at all and it's risky and damaging to your kidneys and body."

Barber's death is now serving as a reminder for people trying to beat the heat with consecutively hotter days ahead. Health experts say your sweat may not be enough to keep you cool. 

"You just heat up to the point where you can't cool off. The other reason you might run out of sweat is you're dehydrated," said Dr. Miner. "All of the organs in your body need you to have enough fluid."

Health experts say with extreme heat on the way, it's important to not just stay hydrated but to check on those who live alone like the elderly, especially if they don't have AC. 

For anyone who takes medications, doctors say to take extra precautions. 

"If you’re on a blood pressure medicine in particular, and you’re out in the heat, you may already be losing some extra fluid to keep your blood pressure under control or less responsive to some of the hormones that acclimate you to the heat," said Dr. Miner. 

Barber's toxicology report from the Collin County Medical Examiner's Office revealed bile fluid containing diphenhydramine and ethanol, liver tissue with caffeine, kidney tissue with no significant findings, and no evidence of morphologic trauma or drug overuse. It also revealed there was no clear evidence of natural disease found. 

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