Cold‐related and Heat‐related Medical Problems


The great majority of illness and mortality caused by heat and cold is produced indirectly through promotion of various disease processes and injuries. Other complications of this nature are due directly to cooling or overheating of the body core (hypothermia or hyperthermia).

Keywords: seasonal mortality; hypothermia; frost bite; hyperthermia; heat stroke

Figure 1.

Fall of body temperature of fat and thin people in water at 15°C for 30 min. From Keatinge (1960).

Figure 2.

Changes in air temperature and mortality associated with a cold day, south‐east England. Mortality is shown as deaths per 106 population per °C depression of temperature on the cold day (day 0), compared with baseline. From Donaldson and Keatinge (1997).



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Donaldson GC, Ermakov SP, Komarov YM, MacDonald CP and Keatinge WR (1998) Cold‐related mortalities and protection against cold in Yakutsk, eastern Siberia: observation and interview study. British Medical Journal 317: 978–982.

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Keatinge WR (1960) The effects of subcutaneous fat and of previous exposure to cold on the body temperature, peripheral blood flow and metabolic rate of men in cold water. Journal of Physiology 153: 166–178.

Keatinge WR, Mason AC, Millard CE and Newstead CG (1986) Effects of fluctuating skin temperature on thermoregulatory responses in man. Journal of Physiology 373: 241–251.

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Neild PJ, Syndercombe‐Court D, Keatinge WR et al. (1994) Cold‐induced increases in erythrocyte count, plasma cholesterol, and plasma fibrinogen of elderly people without comparable rise in protein C or factor X. Clinical Science 86: 43–48.

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Further Reading

Florez‐Duquet M and McDonald RB (1998) Cold‐induced thermoregulation and biological aging. Physiological Reviews 78: 339–358.

Keatinge WR (1969) Survival in Cold Water. The Physiology and Treatment of Immersion Hypothermia and Drowning. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.

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How to Cite close
Keatinge, William(Jan 2003) Cold‐related and Heat‐related Medical Problems. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0002144]