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Abdulaziz Alzeer, Abdullah Al Arifi, Mohsen El-Hazmi, Arjumand S Warsy and Eric S Nylen

Alzeer A, Al Arifi A, El-Hazmi M, Warsy AS, Nylen ES. Thermal regulatory dysfunction of growth hormone in classical heat stroke? Eur J Endocrinol 1996;134:727–30. ISSN 0804–4643

Growth hormone (GH) secretion associated with classical (non-exertional) heat stroke (HS) was evaluated in 26 HS victims and 10 control (non heat-exhausted) subjects during the annual Hajj in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. On admission to the HS treatment unit, the GH level was 1.54 ± 0.14 ng/ml (approximately 3.5-fold higher in the HS victims compared to controls; p = 0.005). The GH levels subsequently declined by 78% by 24 h. The categorized GH response was significantly associated with survival for those subjects with a GH level of < 5.53 ng/ml by 6 h (chi-squared test; p = 0.06). In those patients who died (N = 6), there was a continued increase in GH levels from the time of admission, which peaked at 6 h. In those patients who survived, the GH levels peaked at the time of admission and declined rapidly thereafter. There was a direct correlation of age and GH level upon admission (p = 0.02), as well as to peak GH (p = 0.041). However, there was no relationship of GH level to either body core temperature or the cooling time. In summary, HS induced significant GH secretion. The degree of GH response was not related to the body core temperature and was more pronounced in older individuals and in those that died. Although patients with GH deficiency and HS are characterized by anhidrosis/hypohidrosis, there does not appear to be dysfunction of GH response to heat stress-associated HS. In contrast, a vigorous GH response at 6 h suggested a worse outcome.

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