Malignant hyperthermia is a disease that causes a fast rise in body temperature and severe muscle contractions when someone with the disease gets general anesthesia. It is passed down through families.
Hyperthermia means high body temperature. This condition is not the same as hyperthermia from medical emergencies such as heat stroke or infection.
If you need surgery, tell both your surgeon and anesthesiologist before surgery if:
You know that you or a member of your family has had problems with general anesthesia
You know you have a family history of malignant hyperthermia
Using certain medicines can prevent the complications of malignant hyperthermia during surgery.
Tell your health care provider if you or anyone in your family has malignant hyperthermia, especially before having surgery with general anesthesia.
Avoid stimulant drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine (speed), and ecstasy. These drugs may cause problems similar to malignant hyperthermia in people who are prone to this condition.
Genetic counseling is recommended for anyone with a family history of myopathy, muscular dystrophy, or malignant hyperthermia.
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Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.