Blood Hyperviscosity in Heart Performance and Ischaemia: Heat Transfer and Stress

  • L. Dintenfass
Part of the NATO Advanced Science Institutes Series book series (NSSA, volume 62)


Hyperviscosity, in which an elevation of one or more of the blood viscosity factors (such as viscosity of plasma, viscosity of whole blood, aggregation of red cells and their morphology, aggregation of platelets, rigidity of red cells, dynamic thrombus formation) might take place can lead to ischaemia, infarction and thrombosis of any tissue. At times, symptoms of arterial occlusion are present in absence of occlusion, as elevation of blood viscosity might mimic arterial occlusion or vasospasm.

Heat transfer in the heart is related to the blood flow through the muscle, and thus a decrease of blood flow may lead to decreased heat dissipation and increased localized temperature; this leads to further increased rigidity and aggregation of red cells, and enhancement of localized stasis.

Emotional stress and anxiety also increase blood viscosity and might form a link between stress and cardiovascular disorders.

It is suggested not only that myocardial ischaemia and occlusive arterial disease are related to hyperviscosity, but that heart disease might even be heralded by elevation of one or more of the blood viscosity factors. Elevation of blood viscosity factors is a risk factor much more potent than elevation of cholesterol or elevation of haematocrit. Heart work, physical fitness, and arterial pressure, in patients and in normals, are inversely related to blood viscosity and rigidity and aggregation of red cells. The key role of the ‘inversion’ phenomenon must be considered.

Counteraction of hyperviscosity by bleeding, haemodilution or antiviscosity drugs might introduce a new therapeutic arsenal.


Shear Rate Blood Viscosity Emotional Stress Platelet Aggregate Plasma Viscosity 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Dintenfass
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Kanematsu Memorial InstituteSydney HospitalSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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