Malignant hyperthermia or MH is a rare inherited disorder. MH causes a hypermetabolic, life-threatening reaction in the skeletal muscles called a fulminant MH event. Doctors classify malignant hyperthermia as a pharmacogenetic disorder because volatile anesthetics or polarizing skeletal muscle relaxants almost always trigger the events. A fulminant MH event may be triggered by stress, exercise, or high environmental temperatures, although this is very rare. If medical practitioners cannot take immediate action to halt and treat fulminant MH episodes, the fatality rate can be as high as 70%. The risk of fatality is higher for children.
Signs of malignant hyperthermia include muscle rigidity, an excessively high body temperature, and rapid heart rate. Other indicators of a fulminant MH event are increased acid content in muscles and carbon dioxide build-up in the blood. The onset of a fulminant MH event can occur within minutes or hours of a patient receiving anesthesia.
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