Cardiogenic Shock

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Cardiogenic shock is the failure of your heart to pump enough blood to yourmajor organs to support life.

What is going on in the body?

Any process that interferes with the pumping action of your heart or that causessevere injury to your heart can cause shock. Failure of your heart to pump enough bloodto your major organs causes them to stop working. This is a medical emergency, and thiscondition can cause death quickly.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Any disease that affects the ability of the heart to function can cause thiscondition. Some of the common causes of cardiogenic shock are as follows:

  • a blood clot to the lungs, known as a pulmonary embolus
  • a buildup of fluid around the heart, known as pericardial effusion
  • certain irregular heart beats, called arrhythmias
  • congestive heart failure
  • a massive heart attack
  • Symptoms & Signs

    What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?

    The signs and symptoms of cardiogenic shock are partly related to theorgans that are failing and include:

  • cold and clammy skin
  • confusion
  • decreased urination
  • low blood pressure
  • shortness of breath
  • rapid breathing
  • stroke, also called a brain attack, which is damage to the brain from not enough oxygen
  • a weak pulse
  • Some symptoms and signs depend on the reason the heart is not pumpingwell. For example, the heart rate is usually fast, but the rate could be abnormally low inother cases.

    Diagnosis & Tests

    How is the condition diagnosed?

    Cardiogenic shock is generally diagnosed from your medical history andphysical examination. Figuring out the underlying cause is very important, and willrequire further testing. For example, blood tests and a heart tracing, called anECG, maybe done if a heart attack is suspected. Plain or special X-ray tests are also frequentlydone.

    Prevention & Expectations

    What can be done to prevent the condition?

    If you have heart disease,you should seek medical attention if your condition gets worse for any reason. Promptmedical attention may catch problems before shock occurs. Taking your medicines asprescribed can also prevent shock. Prevention of coronary artery diseaseis probably the best way to prevent this condition. Control ofcoronary risk factorssuch as high blood pressure,diabetes,smoking,and high cholesterolcan also help.

    What are the long-term effects of the condition?

    If untreated, this condition usually causes death. If you survive, thelong-term effects depend on the cause and the speed of diagnosis and treatment.Permanent organ damage, especially to the kidney and brain, can occur.

    What are the risks to others?

    There are no risks to others.

    Treatment & Monitoring

    What are the treatments for the condition?

    The goal of medical therapy is to improve your heart’s ability to pump.How your doctor treats you will depend on the underlying cause of the shock. Many different medicinesand devices may be used to try to restore heart function and blood flow. Some of theseinclude:

  • adding or removing fluids, such as blood, water, or salt
  • heart assist devices, such as a pacemaker
  • heart medicines to help the heart pump more effectively, such as digitalis
  • medicines to dissolve blood clots
  • medicines to help open up, or dilate, certain blood vessels
  • oxygen therapy
  • surgery
  • a ventilator, or artificial breathing machine
  • What are the side effects of the treatments?

    All medicines have possible side effects. Ventilators increase the risk ofinfection. Surgery can be associated with bleeding, infection, and in some cases,death.

    What happens after treatment for the condition?

    If you survive, aggressive treatment and close monitoring of theunderlying disease is needed. In some people, aheart transplantmay have to be done to fix the underlying problem. Your doctor will also test you for any permanent organ damage.

    How is the condition monitored?

    Results of blood tests and urine output are strictly monitored. Progress in thetreatment of the underlying disease is also carefully monitored. X-rays and other testsmay be required in some cases. Always report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.

    Article type: xmedgeneral