Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia or heat-related illness, an abnormally elevated body temperature with accompanying physical symptoms including changes in the nervous system function. Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, two other forms of hyperthermia that are less severe, heat stroke is a true medical emergency that is often fatal if not properly and promptly treated. Heat stroke is also sometimes referred to as heatstroke or sun stroke. Severe hyperthermia is defined as a body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher.
Heat stroke is not the same as a stroke. "Stroke" is the general term used to describe decreased oxygen flow to an area of the brain. Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia in which the body temperature is elevated
dramatically. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not promptly and properly
treated. The cause of heat stroke is an elevation in body temperature, often accompanied by dehydration.
Heat stroke is diagnosed by observation of the symptoms and signs in a person exposed to extreme
temperatures. Heat stroke is treated by cooling the victim is a critical step in the treatment of heat stroke. Always notify emergency services immediately if heat stroke is
suspected. The most important measures to prevent heat strokes are to avoid becoming dehydrated and to avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid
weather. Infants, the elderly, athletes, and outdoor workers are the groups at greatest risk for heat
stroke. Leaving infants, children, or animals in cars poses a risk for heat stroke. Even in moderate weather, the temperature inside a closed car can reach dangerous levels.