Shock occurs when inadequate blood flow threatens the function of multiple organs. Shock is a potentially life-threatening condition. The sooner it is treated, the better the outcome. If you suspect someone is in shock, dial 911 immediately.
Some causes of shock include:
The following factors increase your chances of developing shock:
- Pre-existing heart disease
- Impaired immunity
- Severe allergies
If you experience any of these, do not assume it is because of shock. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your doctor. The symptoms of shock depend on the cause.
Symptoms may include:
- Altered mental status
- Cool and clammy skin
- Low blood pressure
- Decreased urination
- Weak and rapid pulse
- Slow and shallow or rapid and deep breathing
- Lackluster (dull) eyes
- Dilated pupils
Symptom of Shock
When you arrive at the hospital, your doctor will perform a physical exam.
Tests may include the following:
- Breathing assessment
- Blood pressure measurement
- Heart rate monitoring
- Other tests, depending on the cause of shock
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
If you are having trouble breathing, your doctor will clear your airway. Oxygen and breathing assistance may be provided if you need it.
Optimizing Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
You may receive an IV and/or blood transfusions. These will stabilize your blood pressure and heart rate.
Insertion of IV for Transfusion or Medications
You may be given vasopressor medications. These constrict your blood vessels to increase blood pressure. Inotrope medications may also be used to increase your heart contractions.
American College of Emergency Physicians
National Institutes of Health
Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians
Canadian Red Cross
Kumar A, Patel S. Focus on: shock and pressors. American College of Emergency Physicians website. Available at: http://www.acep.org/webportal/membercenter/periodicals/an/2006/oct/shockpressors.htm . Accessed October 26, 2006.
Shock: first aid. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-shock/FA00056 . Accessed October 26, 2006.
Last reviewed January 2009 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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