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How is cardiogenic shock treated?

The goals of emergency treatment for cardiogenic shock are first to treat the shock and then to treat the underlying cause or causes of the shock. Sometimes both the shock and its cause are treated at the same time. For example, doctors may quickly open a blocked blood vessel that's causing damage to the heart. Often, opening the blood vessel can get the patient out of shock with little or no additional treatment.

Emergency Life Support: Emergency life support treatment is required for any type of shock. This treatment helps get blood and oxygen flowing to the brain, kidneys, and other organs. Restoring blood flow to the organs is essential to keep the patient alive and to try to prevent long-term damage to the organs.

Medicines: During and after emergency life support treatment, doctors try to find out what is causing the shock. If the reason for the shock is that the heart isn't pumping strongly enough, then the diagnosis is cardiogenic shock. Depending on what is causing the cardiogenic shock, treatment may include medicines to:
  • Increase the force with which the heart muscle contracts
  • Treat the heart attack that may have caused the shock

Medical Devices and Procedures: In addition to medicines, there are medical devices that can help the heart pump and improve blood flow. The devices most commonly used to treat cardiogenic shock include:

  • Intra-aortic balloon pump
  • Circulatory-assist devices
  • Angioplasty and stents

Surgery: Sometimes medicine and medical devices aren't enough to treat cardiogenic shock. Surgery can restore blood flow to the heart and the rest of the body and repair damage to the heart. Surgery can help keep a patient alive while recovering from shock and improve the chances for long-term survival.

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

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.