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Heat illness during initial military training


Introduction Exertional heat illness (EHI) is recognised as a significant problem for fit young individuals taking part in strenuous activity in temperate climates. The aim of this research was to relate episodes of reported EHI against known risk factors for heat illness and determine whether modification of the training programme had an effect on the number of cases reported. Publication was not possible when the work was originally conducted in 2000 because of barriers within Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) at the time.

Methods A retrospective study examined the medical data for Officer Cadets in training at the RMAS for a 2-year period ending April 2000.

Results 60 cases were initially reported as EHI, in 58 individuals. Using the following criteria; dizziness, collapse, reduced conscious level, headache, nausea, vomiting, elevated core (rectal) temperature and the results of urine and blood tests, 35 cases were diagnosed as EHI and 25 cases had other diagnoses recorded after investigation. Minority of cases (n=12) had an identifiable risk factor but the majority appeared to be fit young individuals who were susceptible to EHI in conditions where the rest of the population was unaffected.

Discussion Further work is planned to study individuals during strenuous activity events in the hope of accurately identifying those at risk and further reducing the incidence of EHI. EHI is common, case definition is poor, risk factors are not present in all individuals but modification of training programmes is effective.

  • occupational & industrial medicine
  • sports medicine
  • epidemiology

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