Intended for healthcare professionals


Heat waves and dehydration in the elderly

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 02 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2663

Special care for the elderly

The elderly need special care, because they are paradoxically frail but sturdy
survivors who have not succumbed to life's many perils. So as physicians, we
should respect the durability and success of their homeostatic mechanisms and
minimize our pharmaceutical interventions. For example, when treating the
elderly for dependent ankle edema due to venous incompetence, it is best to
avoid diuretics and instead use compression stockings and exercise. This will
reduce the likelihood of dehydration, with all its sequelae, including heat
exhaustion and heat stroke.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

13 July 2009
Hugh Mann
Eagle Rock, MO 65641 USA