Volume 32, Issue 6 (November 1987)
Drugs and Alcohol in Hypothermia and Hyperthermia Related Deaths: A Retrospective Study
Hypothermia and hyperthermia related cases recorded for the period 1973 to 1984 were collected from the files of the Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Oulu, and the necropsy protocols including toxicological results were analyzed. The fact that similar alcohol concentrations were found in both types of fatalities points to the poikilothermic effect of alcohol in humans, as found in animal studies. Both types of deaths seem to be associated with the alcohol elimination phase. Antidepressants and neuroleptics were most often found in the hypothermia cases, but benzodiazepines were also quite frequently present. In spite of the diminished use of barbiturates, these still appear in hypothermia fatalities. Certain other drugs that affect thermoregulation were also noted in solitary cases. Extended toxicological analysis was seldom made in the cases of hyperthermia deaths, and no firm conclusions on the poikilothermic effect of psychotropic drugs could be reached, for example. Therapeutic drug concentrations did not alone predispose the subjects to hypothermia, but appeared in connection with alcohol consumption or chronic diseases.