Exertional Heat Stroke: Clinical Significance and Practice Indications for Special Operations Medics and Providers

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Johnston J, Donham B 12(2). 2 - 7 (Journal Article)

Exertional heat stroke is an acute injury associated with high morbidity and mortality, and is commonly encountered within military and Special Operations environments. With appropriate planning, rapid diagnosis, and aggressive treatment significant mortality reduction can be obtained. Planning for both training and real world operations can decrease the patient's morbidity and mortality and increase the chances of successful handling of a patient with exertional heat stroke. The mainstay of treatment is rapid reduction of the core body temperature. This is paramount both at the field level of care as well as in a clinical setting. Diligent surveillance for commonly encountered complications includes anticipating electrolyte abnormalities, rhabdomyolysis, acute renal failure, and hepatic injuries. Treatment with dantrolene may be indicated in patients with continued hyperthermia despite aggressive traditional treatment.

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