Cardiogenic Shock

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Cardiogenic Shock (kar-dee-oh-JE-nik shock) is a state in which a weakened heart isn't able to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. It is a medical emergency and is fatal if not treated right away. The most common cause of cardiogenic shock is damage to the heart muscle from a severe heart attack.

Not everyone who has a heart attack develops cardiogenic shock. In fact, less than 10 percent of people who have a heart attack develop it. But when cardiogenic shock does occur, it's very dangerous. For people who die from a heart attack in a hospital, cardiogenic shock is the most common cause.

What Is Shock?

The medical term "shock" refers to a state in which not enough blood and oxygen reach important organs in the body, such as the brain and kidneys. In a state of shock, a person's blood pressure is very low.

Shock can have a number of different causes. Cardiogenic shock is only one cause of shock. Other causes of shock include:

  • Hypovolemic (hy-poe-voe-LEE-mik) shock. This is shock due to not enough blood in the body. The most common cause is severe bleeding.
  • Vasodilatory (VAZ-oh-DILE-ah-tor-ee) shock. In this type of shock, the blood vessels relax too much and cause very low blood pressure. When the blood vessels are too relaxed, there isn't enough pressure to push the blood through them. Without enough pressure, blood doesn't reach the organs. A bacterial infection in the bloodstream, a severe allergic reaction, or damage to the nervous system (brain and nerves) may cause vasodilatory shock.

When a person is in shock (from any cause), not enough blood or oxygen is reaching the body's organs. If shock lasts more than several minutes, the lack of oxygen to the organs starts to damage them. If shock isn't treated quickly, the organ damage can become permanent, and the person can die.

Some of the signs and symptoms of shock include:

  • Confusion or lack of alertness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • A sudden, rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Pale skin
  • Weak pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Decreased or no urine output
  • Cool hands and feet

If you suspect that you or someone with you is in shock, call 9–1–1 and get emergency treatment right away. Prompt treatment can help prevent or limit lasting damage to the brain and other organs and can prevent death. Outlook

In the past, almost no one survived cardiogenic shock. Now, thanks to improved treatments, around 50 percent of people who go into cardiogenic shock survive.

The reason more people are able to survive cardiogenic shock is because of treatments (medicines and devices) that restore blood flow to the heart and help the heart pump better. In some cases, devices that take over the pumping function of the heart are used. Implanting these devices requires major surgery.