Heat stroke historical perspective

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Heat stroke Microchapters


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Historical Perspective




Differentiating Heat Stroke from other Diseases

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors


Natural History, Complications and Prognosis


History and Symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1];Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Seyedmahdi Pahlavani, M.D. [2],Usama Talib, BSc, MD [3]


Heat stroke was first described by Hippocrates in 400 BC. Its prevention and treatment then described by Avicenna in 1020. Recent treatment advances is because of military experiences with heat exposure.

Historical perspective

The bible acknowledged several sunstroke death in farmers and workers. Juddith's husband died because of sunstroke. Ancient Greek and Romans described how Sirius brought fever to men, describing the occasional use of term Siriasis as heat stroke.

  • Hippocrates, in 400 BC, first described how the violent heat from the sun may cause convulsion and fever.
  • Approximately in 400 BC, Herodotus, described how the Spartans were affected by thirst because of heat.
  • Heat stroke prevention, first described in 332 BC, when Alexander the great advised his army to do not march in sunny days without enough water supplies.
  • Avicenna, in 1020 described preventive measures and precaution for travelling in sunny days to avoid heat stroke in his book, The Canon of Medicine.
  • Edwin Babbit, is an American physician who described the impractical treatment for heat stroke in 1800.
  • In 1865, the first recorded death of a U.S. Navy sailor occurred due to heat stroke.
  • IN 1927, Wakefield and Hall, described the presenting features of heat stroke and its treatment.
  • During Civil Wars in 1885, 313 people died because of heat stroke.
  • Significant advances in understanding heat stroke developed during the Spanish-American War of 1898 by the U.S. Navy.
  • In a 1935 lecture presented to the Royal Society of Medicine in London, D.H.K. Lee differentiated heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps as distinct illnesses with distinct etiologies.
  • During World War II, approximately 250 fatal cases of heat stroke occurred in the U.S. military, mostly in military basic training camps in the southern United States.
  • Army in 1943, stated, the most effective means of reducing pyrexia is by securing evaporation of water from the skin.