What factors interfere with heat dissipation in heat stroke?

Updated: Aug 02, 2019
  • Author: Robert S Helman, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Factors that interfere with heat dissipation include an inadequate intravascular volume, cardiovascular dysfunction, and abnormal skin. Additionally, high ambient temperatures, high ambient humidity, and many drugs can interfere with heat dissipation, resulting in a major heat illness. Similarly, hypothalamic dysfunction negatively affects temperature regulation, predisposing to temperature rise and heat illness.

On a cellular level, heat directly influences the body by interfering with cellular processes along with denaturing proteins and cellular membranes. In turn, an array of inflammatory cytokines, interleukins and heat shock proteins (HSPs) are produced. In particular, HSP-70 allows the cell to endure the stress of its environment. Intense heat stress that is uncompensated leads to apoptosis and cell death.

On a microvascular level, heat stroke resembles sepsis and involves inflammation, translocation of lipopolysaccharides from the gut, and activates the coagulation cascade. Certain preexisting factors, such as age, genetic makeup, and the nonacclimatized individual, may allow progression from heat stress to heat stroke, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), multiorgan dysfunction syndrome (MODS), and ultimately death. Progression to heat stroke may occur through thermoregulatory failure, an amplified acute-phase response, and alterations in the expression of HSPs.

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