HEATSTROKE (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Health)

News-CRUX-10     11th May 2024        

Context: The Union Health Ministry has issued standardised guidelines for confirming heatstroke and heat-related deaths in the country.


  • About: It is the most severe heat-related illness, characterized by the body's inability to regulate its temperature effectively.
  • Temperature Rise: During heat stroke, the body's temperature escalates rapidly, often exceeding 106°F within a span of 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Mechanism Failure: The sweating mechanism fails during heat stroke, leading to the inability of the body to cool down through perspiration.
  • Symptoms: Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech, loss of consciousness (coma), seizures, hot and dry skin, or profuse sweating.

    Guidelines related to Heatstroke

    • About: It is aimed at helping hospitals become aware of the criteria to label a death as heat-related/ heat stroke and bring in evidence-based medical decision-making processes.
    • Prepared by: National Programme on Climate Change and Human Health (NPCCHH) and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
    • Non-Specific Autopsy Findings: Autopsy findings in heat-related deaths are non-specific and vary based on the duration of survival after exposure.
    • Hyperthermia Diagnosis: It heavily relies on thorough scene investigation and understanding the circumstances of death.
    • Recommendation

    o Recognition of non-specific autopsy findings is emphasized.

    o Collaboration with forensic medicine departments for autopsies is recommended.

    o Relevant samples should be sent to pathology departments for histopathological evaluation.

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