Cardiogenic shock happens when there is enough damage to the heart to leave it incapable of efficiently pumping and supplying blood to the body. When this occurs, the body organs begin to fail. The heart serves as the pump that keeps the blood flowing through the blood vessels. Blood delivers oxygen and other essential nutrients that the body organs need to properly function. Hence, when there is damage to the heart, the heart cannot fully pump, and thus, fully function, sign and symptoms of shock begin to manifest.
The most common cause of cardiogenic shock is myocardial infarction (heart attack). Both cardiogenic shock and myocardial infarction are considered medical emergencies that require immediate medical help.
Causes of Cardiogenic Shock
The most common cause of cardiogenic shock is myocardial infarction, it is the irreversible death of cardiac tissue due to prolonged ischemia (absence of oxygen). Although, anything that causes significant damage to the heart may lead to cardiogenic shock. These include:
- Coronary heart disease (leading cause of heart attack)
- Cardiac tamponade
- Pulmonary embolism
Signs and Symptoms of Cardiogenic Shock
The first to show signs and symptoms of cardiogenic shock are the skin, kidneys and brain because these organs are the first to be affected by the insufficient blood. The following are the signs and symptoms of cardiogenic shock:
- Pale, clammy skin
- Excessive sweating
- Cool fingers and toes
- Little or no urine output
- Loss of ability to concentrate
- Loss of consciousness
- Fast heartbeat
- Weak pulse
- Chest pain
- Rapid, shallow breathing
First Aid Management of Cardiogenic Shock
Cardiogenic shock is considered a medical emergency. It requires immediate medical attention. Call for emergency medical services if an individual begins to show signs and symptoms of cardiogenic shock. Perform first aid while waiting for the paramedics. The following first aid tips are recommended:
- Check the casualty’s circulation, airway and breathing. Initiate rescue breathing and CPR if necessary.
- Check and monitor the casualty’s rate of breathing every 5 minutes.
- If the casualty has no injury to the head, neck, spine or leg and is conscious, help the casualty into a shock position. Lay the person down flatly with the feet elevated at 12 inches. This will increase circulation. Do not elevate the head.
- If there is a suspected head, neck, spine or leg injury, do not move the casualty unless it is absolutely necessary.
- If there is a suspected spinal injury, support the casualty’s head, neck and back in a line. Roll the casualty to the side as a unit.
- Cover the casualty with a blanket or coat to keep the casualty warm.
- Loosen any tight clothing.
Understanding cardiogenic shock can help when taking First Aid Courses and CPR Classes.
Complications of Cardiogenic Shock
Complications of cardiogenic shock develop from the prolonged ischemia. The following complications may develop from cardiogenic shock, especially if no medical intervention is given immediately:
- Permanent damage to a large heart muscle region
- Irreversible damage to the brain, kidneys and other organs
- Heart muscle rupture
- Muscle or tendon tear/ rupture – these are the muscles or tendons supporting the heart valves and septum between the lower atria and ventricle
- Arrhythmia: bradycardia, ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation or supraventricular tachycardia
- Pericardial tamponade
Cardiogenic shock occurs when the heart is damaged to an extent that it is left incapable of efficiently pumping and supplying blood to the rest of the body