How does the incidence of heat stroke vary by age?

Updated: Nov 06, 2018
  • Author: Robert S Helman, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Answer

Infants, children, and elderly persons have a higher incidence of heat stroke than young, healthy adults. Infants and children are at risk for heat illness due to inefficient sweating, a higher metabolic rate, and their inability to care for themselves and control their environment.

Elderly persons also are at increased risk for heat-related illnesses because of their limited cardiovascular reserves, preexisting illness, and use of many medications that may affect their volume status or sweating ability. In addition, elderly people who are unable to care for themselves are at increased risk for heat stroke, presumably because of their inability to control their environment.

Exertional heat stroke (EHS) is a leading cause of injury and death in high school athletes; approximately two-thirds of such cases occur in August and involve football players, often those who are obese or overweight. [7] Lack of acclimatization is a major risk factor for EHS in young adults.


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