Magazine article Drug Topics

Thermoregulation: Pathophysiology and Pharmacology

Magazine article Drug Topics

Thermoregulation: Pathophysiology and Pharmacology

Article excerpt

So when a raging fever burns

We shift from side to side by turns,

And 'tis a poor relief we gain

To change the place, but keep the pain.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Bulletin-CHICAGO, July 30, 1995-More than 465 heatrelated deaths, mostly of elderly persons (5 % those aged 75 and older), occurred during the past three weeks across the Cook County metropolitan area. Numerous persons succumbed to heat stroke when temperatures soared as high as 104 deg F and the heat index hit a record 119 deg F during a continuing Midwest heat wave. However, many others were saved from the same fate by timely interventions triggered by alert family pharmacists, who warned public health authorities of persons at risk because of age, illnesses, or medication profile.

Introduction

Most readers will recall the first and factual part of the "bulletin" shown above but will not recall the aspect at the end. Unfortunately, that is because it may not actually have occurred, although it can be argued that it could have and should have. It is to be hoped that there have been such true-to-life instances-and that this article will alert readers so that in times of repetition of such severe weather extremes, they will be "part of the solution, not part of the problem."

Indeed, prescription medications that pharmacists dispense may contribute to a risk--especially in elderly patients-of not only hyperthermia in hot weather, but also of hypothermia in the case of extremely low temperatures. …

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