Troops risk early dementia and psychiatric problems if they suffer heat stroke
Troops who suffer heat stroke are at risk from early dementia and psychiatric problems, Army medics have found.
Those marching with heavy packs at high temperatures and soldiers on SAS selection courses are most at risk.
Up to 20 per cent who suffer heat stroke go on to develop problems with their central nervous system ranging from memory loss to dementia.
A report in the British Medical Journal Military Health found that heat illness was a “serious problem” for the forces.
It details the cases of five fit soldiers in their 20s and 30s who collapsed with heat illness on loaded marches.
Three were medically discharged, one with PTSD symptoms, and two were banned from operations on medical grounds. Army experts called for more to be done to identify those at risk of neurological disability following heat stroke.
Their report said: “All five patients had collapsed during a career high point – special forces selection, operational deployment or promotion course.”
Up to 300 personnel suffer from heat illness a year. Since 2013, four have died – including three reservists taking part in SAS selection.
Cpl James Dunsby 31, LCpl Edward Maher, 31 and LCpl Craig Roberts, 24, died on a 16-mile march in Wales on a hot day in 2013.
Three years later, Afghan veteran Cpl Josh Hoole, 26, died in similar circumstances in the same area.
In 2006, Pte Gavin Williams died of heat stroke after being subjected to a military punishment known as a “beasting”.
The 22-year-old was forced to exercise on one of the hottest days of the year and later suffered heart failure when his body temperature soared to 41.7C.
The Ministry of Defence was forced to apologise and insist there was no place for beastings in the modern Army.
A MoD spokesman said the safety of its personnel was “an absolute priority”.
He added: “The MoD’s policy on heat illness has been updated six times since 2015 and is regularly reviewed. All personnel who are unwell are given appropriate follow-on care.”