What is the initial treatment for heat stroke?

Updated: Aug 02, 2019
  • Author: Robert S Helman, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Heat stroke is a medical emergency and continues to be one of the leading causes of preventable death in sports. [8] Rapid reduction of the core body temperature is the cornerstone of treatment because the duration of hyperthermia is the primary determinant of outcome. Patients diagnosed with exertional heat stroke (EHS) or nonexertional heat stroke (NEHS) should be admitted to the hospital for at least 48 hours to monitor for complications.

Once heat stroke is suspected, cooling must begin immediately and must be continued during the patient's resuscitation. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that cooling be initiated at the scene, before transporting the patient to an emergency department for further evaluation and treatment. [9] Despite extensive education and training, delays are still reported due to trepidation by athletic trainers to accurately diagnose and rapidly initiate treatment for EHS. [10]

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