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Resuscitation. 2011 Jan;82(1):122-5. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2010.09.465. Epub 2010 Oct 30.

History of accidental hypothermia.

Author information

1
Derriford Hospital, Plymouth PL6 8DH, UK. henry.guly@phnt.swest.nhs.uk

Abstract

Death from exposure to cold has been recognised for thousands of years but hypothermia as a clinical condition was not generally recognised until the mid-20th century and then only in extreme conditions such as immersion in cold water or snow. In the UK, hypothermia in less extreme conditions was not generally recognised until the 1960s. Recognition of hypothermia required the temperature to be measured and this did not become a clinical tool until the late 1800s and it was not used routinely until the early 1900s. Although John Hunter and James Curry did some physiological experiments in the 1700s, detailed physiological experiments were not done until the early 20th century and the use of therapeutic hypothermia for malignancy and in anaesthesia in the 1930s and 1940s provided more impetus for investigating the physiology of hypothermia in humans and familiarising the medical profession with measuring core temperatures.

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