Other Names:
Anhydrotic heat exhaustion
Heat cramps
Heat fatigue
Heat stroke
Heat apoplexy
Heat prostration
Heat pyrexia
Heat collapse
Heat syncope
Heat oedema
Heatstroke has been known since biblical times. It is the most severe of the illnesses caused by high ambient temperature. Heat exhaustion and heat prostration are aggravated by depletion of bodily water or salt. During periods of sustained hot weather (heat waves), high rates of severe illness and death due to heatstroke may occur.
Statistics on mortality and hospital admissions show that death rates increase during extremely hot days, particularly among very old and very young people living in cities.

Extreme hot temperatures increase the number of people who die on a given day for many reasons: People with heart problems are vulnerable because their cardiovascular system must work harder to keep the body cool during hot weather. Heat exhaustion and some respiratory problems also increase.

An estimated 1,265 heat-related deaths occurred in the United States during the summer of 1980, many of them from heatstroke. In July 1995, a heat wave killed more than 700 people in the Chicago area. Studies based on these types of statistics estimate that in Atlanta, for example, even a warming of about two degrees (F) would increase heat-related deaths from the present 78 per anum to anywhere from 96 to 247 people per year.
During heat wave emergencies, relief efforts should be preferentially directed toward the high-risk groups: those unable to care for themselves, the bedfast, alcoholics, those taking major tranquillizers, those on the higher floors of buildings, and those whose residences are not well shaded by trees and shrubs. If acquiring a home air conditioner is not economically feasible, persons at risk should attempt to spend more time in air-conditioned places. Strenuous activity should be reduced or rescheduled to the coolest part of the day. If no medical contraindications exist, those at risk should greatly increase their fluid intake. Patients being treated with antipsychotic drugs should be advised of their increased susceptibility to the heat.
Counter Claim:
Warmer temperatures may decrease the number of people who die each year from cold weather. However, in the United States, only 1000 people die from the cold each year, while twice that many die from the heat.
Broader Problems:
Heat disorders
Problem Type:
G: Very specific problems
Date of last update
17.09.1999 – 00:00 CEST