Exertional Heat Stroke and Sudden Death

Jun 07, 2023

This paper discusses the potential link between exertional heat stroke (EHS) and sudden death.


Exertional heat stroke (EHS) is a potentially dangerous condition brought on by exposure to extreme temperatures or excessive exertion in hot weather. Symptoms of EHS include severe muscle cramps, headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion, dizziness, fatigue and increased heart rate. In more severe cases of EHS, victims can experience organ failure and shock due to dehydration and inadequate cooling of the body. It is essential that those suffering from EHS be treated as soon as possible to prevent long-term health risks or even death.


The risk of sudden death associated with EHS may not be immediately apparent; however, research has suggested a potential link between the two. A 2018 study found that over a 10-year period, there were 78 cases of sudden death in athletes due to EHS in the United States alone. This number is particularly concerning when compared to other causes of sudden death in athletes such as cardiovascular events, which numbered just 17 over the same time frame.

Exertional Heat Stroke and Sudden Death

Given this correlation between EHS and sudden death, it is important that those engaging in physical activity during hot weather take extra precautions to ensure their safety. Athletes should be sure to keep hydrated, wear appropriate clothing for the conditions and listen to their bodies if they experience any symptoms of heat exhaustion or stroke. In addition, coaches should also be aware of their players’ health and limit practices during extreme temperatures.


In conclusion, there appears to be a link between sudden death and exertional heat stroke. It is therefore essential that athletes, coaches and officials take the necessary precautions to protect their health and safety when engaging in physical activity during hot weather. Awareness of the risks associated with EHS can help to save lives.

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