CPR First Aid

Cardiogenic Shock Causes, Signs and Treatment

Cardiogenic Shock: Causes, Signs and Treatment

Few things are as frightening as experiencing a heart attack. In addition to the chest pain and shortness of breath that often comes with them, heart attacks can also lead to cardiogenic shock, a life-threatening condition in which the heart is unable to pump blood effectively. Left untreated, cardiogenic shock can lead to death within minutes. Knowing the causes, signs and treatment of cardiogenic shock is therefore essential for anyone who might experience one.

What is Cardiogenic Shock?

Cardiogenic shock is a sudden, severe drop in blood pressure due to the heart’s inability to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. It can be caused by a heart attack, heart failure, or other conditions that damage or weaken the heart muscle. Cardiogenic shock is a serious medical emergency that can be fatal.

Incidence of Cardiogenic Shock in Australia

In Queensland, cardiogenic shock is estimated to occur in 1-2% of all people who have a heart attack. Treatment for cardiogenic shock usually involves hospitalisation in an intensive care unit, where the patient will be monitored closely and given medications to support the heart and help it pump more effectively. In some cases, a mechanical ventricular assist device may be required to help the heart pump blood.

What Causes Cardiogenic Shock?

Although the majority of the cases are caused by heart problems, the following are a few of the several potential causes of cardiogenic shock:

A heart attack (Myocardial Infarction)

In many cases, cardiogenic shock is the result of a heart attack. When the blood supply to the heart muscle is blocked, the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This can lead to organ damage and eventually, death.

Severe heart rhythm problems (Arrhythmias)

Arrhythmias can lead to cardiogenic shock in a number of ways. First, arrhythmias can cause the heart to beat too fast or too slow, which can reduce the amount of blood that is pumped through the body. This can lead to a decrease in blood pressure, which can cause shock. Second, arrhythmias can cause the heart to work less efficiently, which can also lead to a decrease in blood pressure and shock. Finally, arrhythmias can cause the heart to stop beating altogether (cardiac arrest), which can lead to death.

A tear in the aorta (Aortic Dissection)

An aortic dissection is a condition in which the inner layer of the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body, tears. This can cause blood to flow between the layers of the aorta and weaken the wall of the artery.

Cardiac Tamponade

A cardiac tamponade or fluid buildup around the heart can lead to cardiogenic shock when the pressure in the pericardial sac becomes so great that it interferes with the heart’s ability to pump blood. This can cause the heart to beat erratically and eventually stop altogether.

Severe heart valve problems

Severe heart valve problems can lead to cardiogenic shock by causing the heart to pump less efficiently and by preventing enough blood from reaching the rest of the body.

Severe lung disease

Severe lung disease can lead to cardiogenic shock by impairing the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. This can result in a drop in blood pressure and decreased blood flow to the organs.


Sepsis can lead to cardiogenic shock in several ways. First, sepsis can cause low blood pressure (hypotension), which reduces the amount of blood that reaches the heart. Second, sepsis can cause the heart to become less efficient in pumping blood (myocardial dysfunction). Third, sepsis can damage the heart muscle (myocardial injury), making it less able to pump blood. Finally, sepsis can cause fluid to build up around the heart (pericardial effusion), which can further reduce its ability to pump blood.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to an infection. The body’s immune system normally fights infections, but when the body’s defence against an infection damages its own tissues and organs, it develops sepsis.

What are Signs of Cardiogenic Shock?

The signs and symptoms of cardiogenic shock include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Low blood pressure

If you or someone you know experience any of these symptoms seek medical help immediately.

Who Is At Risk?

Those who have experienced a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart issues are at risk for cardiogenic shock. In order to increase the likelihood of survival, early identification and treatment are crucial.

How Do We Treat Cardiogenic Shock?

The cornerstone of therapy for cardiogenic shock is revascularisation of the myocardium. This can be achieved either by surgical means: coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or percutaneously (angioplasty with stenting). Revascularisation should be performed as soon as possible in order to improve the chances of survival.

Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI)

PCI is the preferred mode of revascularisation in most cases of cardiogenic shock, as it is less invasive than CABG and can be performed more quickly. The main disadvantage of PCI is that it may not be possible to treat all of the blocked arteries, which may lead to the need for repeat procedures or CABG in the future.

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

Compared to PCI, CABG is a more intrusive treatment, but it has the benefit of treating all blocked arteries at once. This implies that future repeat procedures are less likely to be required.

Treatment in Southport

The most common form of treatment in Australia for cardiogenic shock is percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). This is a procedure where a small tube (catheter) is inserted into the blocked artery and a stent is placed to open up the artery. This procedure is usually done in the hospital by a cardiologist.

Monitoring the Patient

The first step in monitoring cardiogenic shock is to ensure that the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate are stable. If the patient’s blood pressure drops or their heart rate increases, it may be necessary to increase the number of fluids they are receiving or to start them on medication to help stabilise their condition. It is also important to closely monitor the patient’s oxygen levels and to keep an eye out for any signs of organ failure.

In addition to monitoring the patient’s vital signs, it is also important to monitor their urine output. This can give clues as to how well the patient’s kidneys are functioning and whether or not they are retaining fluid. Monitoring the patient’s mental state and level of consciousness is also crucial. If the patient starts to become confused or agitated, it may be necessary to adjust their medications.

Finally, the patient’s cardiac output should also be monitored. This can be done by measuring the amount of blood that the heart pumps in one minute. Cardiac output can give clues as to how well the heart is functioning and whether or not it is getting enough oxygen. If the cardiac output is low, it may be necessary to start the patient on medication to improve their heart function.

Can Covid Cause Cardiogenic Shock?

Covid-19 has been linked to cardiogenic shock in some cases. The exact cause is not yet known, but it is thought that the virus may damage the heart muscle or trigger an inflammatory response that leads to cardiac dysfunction.

Cardiogenic shock is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment. If you suspect that you or someone else is experiencing this condition, call triple zero (000) or go to the nearest emergency room.

In conclusion, cardiogenic shock, a potentially fatal illness, happens when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to fulfil the body’s demands. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the best possible outcome. With prompt medical care, many people with cardiogenic shock can recover fully.

First Aid for Cardiogenic Shock

Cardiogenic shock first aid at Cnr Ferry Rd and, Cotlew St E, Southport 4215 focuses on supporting the heart and circulation while emergency medical care is sought. This may involve cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillation (AED), and administering medications.

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