The hypothermic patient

Tippett, Vivienne & Horrocks, Peter (2013) The hypothermic patient. Elsevior, Sydney NSW.


Concepts used in this chapter include:

Thermoregulation:- Thermoregulation refers to the body’s sophisticated, multi-system regulation of core body temperature. This hierarchical system extends from highly thermo-sensitive neurons in the preoptic region of the brain proximate to the rostral hypothalamus, down to the brain stem and spinal cord. Coupled with receptors in the skin and spine, both central and peripheral information on body temperature is integrated to inform and activate the homeostatic mechanisms which maintain our core temperature at 37oC.1 Body heat is lost through the skin, via respiration and excretions. The skin is perhaps the most important organ in regulating heat loss.

Hyporthermia:- Hypothermia is defined as core body temperature less than 350C and is the result of imbalance between the body’s heat production and heat loss mechanisms.

Hypothermia may be accidental, or induced for clinical benefit i.e: neurological protection (therapeutic hypothermia). External environmental conditions are the most common cause of accidental hypothermia, but not the only causes of hypothermia in humans. Other causes include metabolic imbalance; trauma; neurological and infectious disease; and exposure to toxins such as organophosphates.

Therapeutic Hypothermia:- In some circumstances, hypothermia can be induced to protect neurological functioning as a result of the associated decrease in cerebral metabolism and energy consumption. Reduction in the extent of degenerative processes associated with periods of ischaemia such as excitotoxic cascade; apoptotic and necrotic cell death; microglial activation; oxidative stress and inflammation associated with ischaemia are averted or minimised.2 Mild hypothermia is the only effective treatment confirmed clinically for improving the neurological outcomes of patient’s comatose following cardiac arrest.3

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ID Code: 57978
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional Information: submitted to "Paramedic Principles and Practice ANZ" for publicaiton
Keywords: thermoregulation, hypothermia, paramedic
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Deposited On: 11 Mar 2013 00:13
Last Modified: 17 May 2013 05:52

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