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Malignant Hyperthermia Background


Malignant Hyperthermia (MH) is a life-threatening pharmacogenetic condition that induces “skeletal muscle calcium regulation” disorder (Hopkins 48). The disorder was first detected in 1960 when an anesthetist managed to notice the symptoms. The anesthetist also managed to choose an effective treatment strategy. The case is now known as the first example of successful treatment of MH. However, it is necessary to note that the disorder is still very dangerous as the symptoms are often intangible. One of the major ways to treat the disorder effectively is to diagnose MH in time. It is also necessary to note that though some information on the disorder is available; there are far too many things yet to be learned.

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It Was Fatal in Most Cases in the 1970s

It is necessary to remember that the disorder is potentially life-threatening. Thus, it was fatal in 80% of cases in the 1970s (“A Medical Staff’s Aftermath” 8). Anesthetists often failed to detect the symptoms of the disorder. This led to numerous fatal cases. The first patient to survive after experiencing HM was Roy Evans (Hopkins 48). The anesthetist knew that 10 relatives of the patient died under general anesthesia. The anesthetist managed to notice the symptoms of the disorder. The operation was stopped, and effective treatment was chosen. The case was really important as it marked the new era where MH could be detected.

The Cases Are Rather Rare

Nonetheless, it is necessary to note that the cases of MH are rather rare (Glahn et al. 417). The scarcity of cases makes it a very dangerous disorder. In the first place, though the symptoms are not numerous, they can be difficult to detect. Besides, due to the scarcity of cases, the disorder has not been properly described. Admittedly, anesthetists know the main triggers of the disorder. These are “all volatile (inhalation) anesthetic agents” and succinylcholine (Glahn et al 418). It has also been acknowledged that MH caused by drugs is dose-dependent (Hopkins 48). At the same time, the minimum dose is still unknown. It is known that dantrolene is very effective in MH treatment, though it is not available in many developing countries (Glahn 417). Therefore, the disorder is considered to be dangerous.

There Are Still Many Fatal Cases

Unfortunately, many patients experiencing MH pass away at present. Apart from the scarcity of data, the symptoms are often hard to detect. One of the cases confirms that the disorder is extremely dangerous as the symptoms can be rather intangible. Reportedly, a 20-year-old young man passed away as the anesthetists failed to detect the symptoms in time: the levels of carbon dioxide were low, the temperature hardly rose, and the breathing (though somewhat increased) was not seen as a pure symptom as it could be the cause of the use of the breathing apparatus (“A Medical Staff’s Aftermath” 8). Notably, MH cases have increased lately (Glahn 417). Therefore, researchers claim that it is essential to raise awareness among people and especially among medical staff. This can help prevent fatal cases.


On balance, it is possible to note that malignant hyperthermia is a potentially fatal disorder that can be difficult to detect. There have been many fatal MH episodes as the symptoms of the disorder were not detected in time. Importantly, MH cases have increased so researchers state that it is crucial to raise awareness among medical staff as well as patients. This will help to prevent fatal MH episodes.

Works Cited

“A Medical Staff’s Aftermath of an MH Death.” The Communicator, 24.1 (2005-2006): 8-9. Print.

Glahn, K.P.E. et al. “Recognizing and Managing a Malignant Hyperthermia Crisis: Guidelines from the European Malignant Hyperthermia Group.” British Journal of Anaesthesia 105.4 (2010): 417-420. Print.

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Hopkins, P.M. “Malignant Hyperthermia: Pharmacology of triggering.” British Journal of Anaesthesia 107.1 (2011): 48-56. Print.

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