Hyperthermia

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Very few signs at autopsy will indicate a person died from hyperthermia. The most important sign is body temperature. If a body is found at a scene soon after death, an increased temperature will be evident. If a decedent is not found for many hours, or is discovered the next day, a diagnosis may be impossible.

There are a number of causes of hyperthermia. Older people may succumb to heat during summer months because of an underlying disease which contributes to their inability to cope with heat, or their dwellings may not have an appropriate cooling system. Malignant hyperthermia is a syndrome which develops in people who react to certain drugs, such a phenathiozines (thorazine) or hal-othane. The use of cocaine and methamphetamine are also associate with hyperthermia. In some of these cases there is a genetic predisposition toward developing "malignant" hyperthermia.

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