Difference between revisions of "Heat stroke"

Line 20: Line 20:
**[[Sepsis (Main)|Sepsis]]
Line 27: Line 27:
**[[Thyroid Storm]]
**[[Thyroid storm]]
**[[Diabetic ketoacidosis|DKA]]
**Hypothalamic bleeding or infarct
**Hypothalamic bleeding or infarct
**[[Stroke (main)|CVA]]
**[[Status epilepticus]]
**[[Status epilepticus]]
**Anticholinergic toxidrome
**[[Anticholinergic toxicity|Anticholinergic toxidrome]]
**[[Sympathomimetic overdose]]
**[[Sympathomimetic toxicity]]
**[[Salicylate overdose]]
**[[Aspirin (Salicylate) toxicity]]
**[[Serotonin syndrome]]
**[[Serotonin syndrome]]
**[[Malignant hyperthermia]]
**[[Malignant hyperthermia]]
**[[Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome]]
**[[Neuroleptic malignant syndrome]]
**Withdrawal (ETOH, benzo)
**Withdrawal (e.g. ETOH, Benzodiazepines)
{{AMS and fever DDX}}
{{AMS and fever DDX}}

Revision as of 04:55, 6 March 2016


  • Severe end of heat-related illness spectrum
  • True emergency - universally fatal if left untreated


  • Classic (nonexertional) - insidious development over days
    • Seen in children and elderly
  • Exertional - rapid onset during exercise or other exertion
    • Seen in otherwise young, healthy individuals

Clinical Features

  • Symptoms[1]
  • Anhidrosis is frequently present; however, its absence does NOT rule out heat stroke

Differential Diagnosis

Environmental heat diagnoses


Altered mental status and fever



  • Blood glucose
  • CBC
  • Chemistry
  • Elevated LFTs sensitive for heat stroke
    • AST > 1000, poor prognosis
    • Especially in exertional heat stroke
  • Arterial blood gas or Venous blood gas
    • PaCO2 is often <20 2/2 hyperventilation
  • Lactate (often elevated in exertional heat stroke)
  • Coagulation studies
  • Creatine phosphokinase and myoglobin
  • Urine analysis
  • ECG
  • Chest x-ray
  • CT brain and/orLP as needed


  • Diagnosis is made by history and physical exam and exclusion of other diseases


  • Address ABCs
  • Rapid cooling (see below) - mainstay of treatment
    • Reduces morbidity, should be started in prehospital setting if no other life-threats exist[1]
  • Remove from environment
  • IVF (for renal protection and avoiding rhabdomyolysis)
    • Bolus if hypotensive
    • Infusion titrated to UOP (goal 250mL/hour)

Rapid Cooling

  • Goal is to reduce temp to 39C (102.2F) and then stop to avoid overshoot hypothermia
  • Antipyretics (ASA and acetaminophen) and dantrolene have no role
  • Cooling blankets work too slowly to be employed as sole treatment
  • Ice packs to neck, axillae, groin are useful as adjunct only
  • Cold IVF is not effective
  • Techniques
    • Evaporative
      • Method of choice
      • Spray cool water (15C (59F)) on most of pt's body surface; turn on fan
      • Complications
        • Shivering (occurs when skin temp is <30C (86F): treat with short-acting benzodiazepines
        • Electrodes not sticking: place on pt's back instead
    • Ice-water immersion
      • Consider especially in young, healthy pts
      • Complications
        • Shivering
        • Inability to perform defibrillation or resuscitative procedures
    • Invasive
      • Consider if evaporative cooling or immersion is insufficient
      • Cardiopulmonary bypass
      • Cold water gastric, bladder or rectal lavage


  • Hypotension
    • BP will usually respond to small fluid bolus (500cc) and body cooling
      • If ineffective consider vasopressors (dopamine or dobutamine)
      • Avoid peripheral vasoconstriction (norepinephrine)
        • May redirect blood flow away from skin
  • Electrolyte abnormalities
    • Variable: hypokalemia and hyper or hyponatremia may be seen
  • Hematologic
    • DIC or abnormal bleeding
  • Hepatic injury
    • Almost always reversible
  • Renal failure
  • ARDS
  • Seizure
  • Neurologic deficit
    • Persistent in 20%, associated with high mortality


  • All patients require admission

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Becker JA, Stewart LK. Heat-related illness. Am Fam Physician. 2011 Jun 1;83(11):1325-30.