Monday, June 6, 2011

Evaluation and management of heat-related illness

Last July, a record-breaking heat wave affected most of the Northern Hemisphere and led to many cases of heat-related illness in the U.S. and abroad. As the summer of 2011 approaches, Drs. Jonathan Becker and Lynsey Stewart from the University of Louisville, Kentucky present an updated review of the evaluation and management of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke in the June 1st issue of AFP. In addition to using the suggested evaluation algorithm, family physicians should also be aware of the many conditions and substances that may increase the risk of heat-related illness. As the authors note, heat stroke is a true medical emergency that requires immediate assessment and lowering of core body temperature, preferably through cold water immersion.