If your heart is suddenly unable to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs, you may have a condition known as cardiogenic shock. This condition is usually caused by a severe heart attack, but not everyone who has experienced a heart attack has cardiogenic shock. Injury to the heart is the main reason for its inability to pump enough blood to the vital organs of the body. Because of this condition, blood pressure will fall and other organs of the body may begin to fail. The good news is, cardiogenic shock is not a common condition. It is, however, very severe and requires immediate medical attention as it is life-threatening. Today, more than 50 percent of people with cardiogenic shock will survive due to improved treatments and quicker symptom recognition.
The most common cause of cardiogenic shock is a heart attack, when the flow of blood through the arteries is restricted or blocked by a waxy substance called plaque. Other causes and risk factors of cardiogenic shock include:
People who are older, have a history of heart failure or attacks, have diabetes or high blood pressure, and are female have a higher risk of developing cardiogenic shock.
Some symptoms of cardiogenic shock include rapid breathing, chest pain, severe shortness of breath, tachycardia (sudden rapid heartbeat), loss of consciousness, weak pulse, low blood pressure, pale skin, sweating, cold extremities, and oliguria (urinating less than normal or not at all). Other signs and symptoms include confusion and anxiety, fatigue, and even a coma if the shock is not treated and stopped quickly.
A cardiogenic shock diagnosis is usually performed in an emergency setting. In these situations, doctors will check for signs and symptoms of shock and perform certain tests to find the cause. These tests may include the following:
Measure blood pressure: People with cardiogenic shock have very low blood pressure.
Electrocardiogram (ECG): Records the electrical activity of the heart to find out if the muscle is damaged. If it is, or if there are electrical problems or fluid build-up around the heart, it will not conduct electrical impulses normally.
Chest X-ray: Allows your doctor to observe the size and shape of your heart and its blood vessels. It also helps the doctor see if there is fluid in your lungs.
Blood draws and tests: Conducted to check for organ damage, infection, and heart attack. Blood-oxygen levels can also be measured using these tests (arterial blood gas test).
Echocardiograms: Sound waves used in this test produce an image of your heart, which can help identify if your heart has been damaged by a heart attack.
Angiogram (cardiac catheterization): A dye in the form of a liquid is injected into your heart’s arteries through a long, thin tube that is inserted through an artery in your leg. The dye makes your arteries visible on an X-ray, showing if there are areas of blockage or narrowing.
Cardiac enzyme test: When heart cells die, they release enzymes into the blood known as markers or biomarkers. By measuring these markers, doctors can find out if your heart has been damaged.
Treatment for cardiogenic shock focuses on minimizing the damage from the lack of oxygen to the heart muscle and other organs. Since diagnosis often occurs in an emergency, patients would be connected to a ventilator and would receive medications and fluid through an intravenous line in the arm. Some medications used include the following:
Medical procedures are also used to treat cardiogenic shock. Some treatments include:
Surgery is the third form of treatment used to help those with cardiogenic shock. Here are some of the surgeries associated with this condition:
While there are treatments for cardiogenic shock, the condition is extremely serious. Preventing its root causes is key to ensuring that you may never suffer from cardiogenic shock. Some of these root causes include hypertension, obesity, smoking, and high cholesterol. For those with a previous history of heart attack, your doctor may prescribe medications that can help prevent you from having cardiogenic shock. Here are some important tips to help you prevent cardiogenic shock:
Cardiogenic shock is the leading cause of death after a heart attack, with rates as high as 70 to 90 percent without aggressive care. By observing hypotension, an absence of hypovolemia, and clinical signs of poor tissue perfusion, doctors can diagnose this condition quickly. Noticing the signs during a physical examination, doctors can recognize the condition and spring into action to provide treatment and solutions, but the sooner you are diagnosed, the more effective treatments will be. As with all health conditions and illnesses, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle to prevent a heart attack in the first place.
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