Cardiogenic (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.
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.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
- 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.
This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.