Heat Stroke

heats stroke causes

Last Updated July 24th, 2021

Overview of heat stroke

With the aggressive growth of industrial development in the past decade, there has been a steady increase in the rate of global warming. This has adversely impacted the global population, especially the residents of urban and industrial areas in terms of health, money, and productivity. Among various ailments triggered by the increased temperature of Earth, “heat stroke” poses a potential threat to human existence. A recent survey by World Health Organization (2015) shows that strokes caused by heat waves kill more than 2000 people per year in tropical countries like India, Pakistan and a few more. Global health organizations are predicting an increase in the morbidity and mortality rates in the upcoming years unless adequate measures to control diseases due to excessive heat are not formulated.

What is heat stroke?

heats stroke causesA heatstroke is basically a form of “Hyperthermia” which is a pathological condition of abnormally increased body temperature due to external heat sources.

Heatstroke causes numerous physiological complications.

At present, heatstroke is one of the leading causes of emergency medical conditions, in which the human body temperature rises above 40 degree Celcius due to prolonged and unprotected exposure to sources of heat.

In this condition, perspiration does not occur and the internal body temperature steadily increases due to lack of cooling. It affects the thermoregulation mechanism of the body adversely.

What causes heat stroke?

Heatstroke normally occurs as a continuation of existing heat-related disorders such as heat cramps or heat exhaustion. The generalized causes of heatstroke are listed below-

  • Abrupt increase in internal body temperature (up to 105o F)
  • Lack of cooling (due to reduced perspiration)
  • Sudden exposure to a source of heat
  • Direct and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiations of sun
  • Extremely hot weather with no breeze
  • Extreme sensitivity of the body to elevated temperature
  • Reduced adaptability of the body to change in temperature
  • Wearing excessive clothing in a hot environment
  • Occupational hazards (Eg: Factory workers are exposed to heat from blast furnace)
  • Lack of ventilation
  • Existing illnesses like heart diseases , high blood pressure or fever
  • Medications like vasoconstrictors and beta-blockers which affect the thermoregulation capacity of the body
  • Dehydration due to low intake of fluids
  • Diet deficient in essential nutrients
  • Excess alcohol or tobacco consumption which impedes the body’s thermoregulation capacity
  • Electrolyte imbalance within the body (Eg: drop of sodium level)

Symptoms of heat stroke

The symptoms of heatstroke are often confused with cardiac arrest or other physiological disorders. A proper identification of the following symptoms is necessary to protect a person from the risks of heatstroke-

  • Complete lack of sweating even at a very high temperature
  • Extremely dry, heated up and reddened skin
  • Rapid heart rate (palpitation)
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Dizziness and convulsions
  • A persistent and throbbing headache
  • Confused and agitated mental state

Immediate hospitalization is necessary if the symptoms persist, to avoid serious consequences.

Clinical complications of heatstroke

heats strokeHeatstroke in most cases does not limit itself to few superficial symptoms. Very often it leads to multisystem failure and attacks the vital organs of the body as well. The following clinical complications can be expected after heatstroke incidences-

  • Central Nervous System is affected in 20% cases
  • The muscular system is impacted due to Rhabdomyolysis which badly damages the muscular tissues
  • Renal failure occurs in various instances due to the presence of excess protein (myoglobin) in urine
  • Damage to liver cells occur, leading to Coagulopathy (impaired blood clotting) and Hepatitis
  • Cardiac failure may occur due to myocardiopathy (damage to heart muscles)

Types of heat stroke

Depending on the etiological factor behind heatstroke, they may be classified into two main categories- (a) Exertional heatstroke and (b) Classic heatstroke

  • Exertional heat stroke: Heat stroke caused due to prolonged physical exertion at extremely high temperatures (greater than 104o F) is called exertional heatstroke. It is characterized by muscle cramps (heat cramps), extreme fatigue (heat exhaustion) and temporary unconsciousness due to a rapid drop in blood pressure (heat syncope). Few other features include diaphoresis (unusual sweating) and “altered sensorium” (impaired functioning of sense organs). Usually, people undergoing rigorous physical activities under extreme heat conditions are victims of this kind of heat stroke. Marathon athletes and factory workers (exposed to high temperature of a blast furnace) and firefighters usually fall into this category. This type of heatstroke usually stops manifesting itself once the physical activities in extreme environmental conditions are stopped. Exertional heatstroke can also occur due to excessive use of drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines which causes an abnormal increase in the rate of motor activities.
  • Classic heatstroke: Classic heatstroke or Non-exertional heatstroke mostly occurs due to an abnormally elevated temperature of the surrounding for a long period of time. NEHS is characterized by hyperthermia, anhidrosis, and an altered sensorium, which develop suddenly after a period of prolonged elevations in ambient temperatures (ie, heat waves). Core body temperatures greater than 41°C are diagnostic, although heatstroke may occur with lower core body temperatures.

Numerous central nervous system (CNS) symptoms, ranging from minor irritability to delusions, irrational behavior, hallucinations, and coma have been described. Other possible CNS symptoms include seizures, cranial nerve abnormalities, cerebellar dysfunction, and opisthotonos.Anhidrosis due to the cessation of sweating is a late occurrence in heatstroke and may not be present when patients are examined.

Patients with NEHS initially may exhibit a hyperdynamic circulatory state, but, in severe cases, hypodynamic states may be noted.

Classic heatstroke most commonly occurs during episodes of prolonged elevations in ambient temperatures. It affects people who are unable to control their environment and water intake (eg, infants, elderly persons, individuals who are chronically ill), people with reduced cardiovascular reserve (eg, elderly persons, patients with chronic cardiovascular illnesses), and people with impaired sweating (eg, from skin disease or ingestion of anticholinergic or psychiatric drugs). In addition, infants have an immature thermoregulatory system, and elderly persons have impaired perception of changes in body and ambient temperatures and a decreased capacity to sweat.

Vulnerable groups

Anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, but those most at risk are:

  • People over 65 years, particularly those living alone or without air conditioning
  • Babies and young children
  • Pregnant and nursing mothers
  • People who are physically unwell, especially with heart disease, high blood pressure or lung diseases.

Treatment & Prevention

heats stroke treatmentAll the treatment methodologies designed to treat heat stroke aim to cool down the high body temperature to normal levels.

Treatment should be provided as quickly as possible so that the vital organs such as the brain don’t get damaged.

Immersing the patient’s body in ice cold water will help in rapidly decreasing the body’s core temperature.

Ice-cold showers can also help.

There are special cooling blankets available that help in protecting from heat strokes.Apply ice packs in certain areas of the body such as the armpits, back, neck, and groin to help in decreasing the body temperature.Certain home remedies such covering the patient with cold damp sheets can also help.

Drink plenty of fluids throughout the hot days to ensure that your core temperature is maintained as the homeostatic level.  Don’t provide caffeine or alcohol containing drinks to the person during an episode of heat stroke. During summers, wear loose-fitting and light-weight clothes.  Never sit inside a car when it’s parked in the hot sun. Never leave kids or pets unattended in such conditions.

Facts

  • In the last 3 decades, there has been 1 heat stroke-related death in the USA for every 2 million people.
  • Between 1979 and 2013, more than 9000 deaths were caused as result of heat stroke with a majority of them being elderly people.

Facts

  • Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature rises beyond 104 degree Celsius. Such a high temperature causes damage at the cellular level.

Facts

  • On an average 36 child deaths happen every year because they were left in the car in the heat.
  • Heat stroke is one of the leading causes of sudden sports-related fatalities.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Take cold showers and wear loose and light clothes.
  • The main priority, when dealing with a person with heat stroke, is to bring the body temperature down. Pour cold water on his/her head and him/her in a cool shady place.
Don'ts
  • Consume alcohol after the heat stroke and during the entire time the temperatures are soaring.
  • Spend time inside a car for long. The glass traps the heat which might trigger an episode of heat stroke. Don’t leave kids, infants, or pets in the car during hot days.
  • Do exercises in the morning time, especially cycling and running.
  • 11 am to 4 pm is the worst time to step out.

 

 

 

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Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
Tattoo Aftercare: The best practices to follow once you get inked Planning getting permanently inked? Make sure you follow these critical tattoo aftercare techniques to avoid infectious agents attacking…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
immunoglobulin M
Immunoglobulin M Test Immunoglobulin M is the largest and the first produced antibody which helps in the prevention or fighting of…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Elderberry: More than just a folk medicine for cold and sinusitis While the raw elderberry can be a hazard, when consumed in the form of teas and syrup, elderberry…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Oxidative Stress: Understanding the most lethal phenomenon happening in your body right now Free radicals cause damage to the body, which is known as oxidation.  The amount of oxidation caused by…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
Internal bleeding brain
Beware: Ignoring these tell-tale signs of stroke could cost a life The signs and symptoms of a stroke differ depending on which part of the brain has been affected.…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…