CPR First Aid

Causes of Haemorrhagic Shock and How to Prevent Them

Haemorrhagic shock is a condition that happens when not enough blood flows to the tissues. There is not enough oxygen and nutrients for the cells. Learn more.

Haemorrhagic shock is a serious medical condition that can result in death if left untreated. This condition can be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma, internal bleeding, and sepsis. There are steps that can be taken to help prevent haemorrhagic shock from happening, and early recognition and treatment are vital for the best possible outcome. In this post, we will take a closer look at the causes of haemorrhagic shock and how it can be prevented.

Cases in Australia

There are approximately 500 cases of haemorrhagic shock in Australia each year. The majority of these cases occur as a result of trauma, such as car accidents or falls. Other causes include ruptured aneurysms, childbirth and GI bleeds.

Southport first aid practices can be useful in providing emergency care to casualties resulting from unwanted accidents in the workplace or in public places.

 "About 500 haemorrhagic shock cases yearly in Australia from trauma, aneurysms, childbirth, and GI bleeds.

What Happens in Haemorrhagic Shock?

The haemorrhagic shock takes place when a sudden drop in blood pressure occurs due to severe blood loss. When this happens, the body’s organs and tissues are not getting enough oxygen and they start to shut down.

Main Cause of Haemorrhagic Shock

Shock is a potentially life-threatening condition in cases when the body is not getting enough blood flow. Shock can be caused by any number of things, but most often it is the result of severe bleeding. When someone is losing blood faster than it can be replaced, their blood pressure drops and not enough oxygen gets to the vital organs. This can lead to organ damage and even death.

What is Bleeding?

Bleeding is the loss of blood from the body. It can happen either internally, where blood leaks from blood vessels inside the body, or externally, where blood flows out through a break in the skin. Bleeding can also occur inside organs, such as the brain.

"Bleeding: blood loss from body, internal/external; may affect organs like brain."

Common Causes of Internal Bleeding

When blood seeps from blood vessels and builds up inside the body, it is called internal bleeding and it has the potential to be fatal. It can occur anywhere in the body, but is most common in the brain, abdomen, and chest.

There are many causes of internal bleeding. Some of these are more serious than others, and some require immediate medical attention. Common causes of internal bleeding include:

  • gastrointestinal ulcers or other diseases of the digestive system
  • liver disease
  • kidney disease
  • cancer
  • blood clotting disorders
  • trauma or some types of injuries
  • medication

Less common causes are:

  • inherited blood disorders
  • certain medications such as aspirin or other blood thinners
  • infections
  • pregnancy complications

External Causes

  • Injury to the skin or tissue, such as a cut, scrape or burn
  • Insect or animal bites
  • Nosebleeds
  • Excessive coughing
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in the stool
  • Menstrual bleeding
  • Childbirth

If you experience any kind of internal bleeding, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Difference Between Haemorrhagic Shock and Hypovolemic Shock

Haemorrhagic shock occurs when there is significant blood loss from the body whereas, hypovolemic shock takes place when there is a decrease in the volume of blood or fluids in the body. This can happen due to dehydration, bleeding, or burns. When there is a decrease in blood or fluid volume, the body tissues and organs do not get enough oxygen and nutrients which can lead to organs not functioning properly.

What are Haemorrhagic Shock Complications?

The complications of haemorrhagic shock can be both acute and delayed.

Acute Complications

A sudden, abrupt drop in blood pressure is a medical emergency that can lead to acute haemorrhagic shock. This can happen due to bleeding, or from an infection or other illness. Symptoms include pale skin, weak pulse, fast heart rate, and difficulty breathing.

Acute complications include low blood pressure, arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), increased heart rate, and decreased urine output.

Delayed Complications

Delayed haemorrhagic shock is a type of shock that occurs when bleeding continues after initial treatment. This can happen if the person loses too much blood, has an underlying medical condition that prevents proper clotting, or if the initial treatment was not effective. Delayed haemorrhagic shock can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

Delayed complications can include multiple organ failure, sepsis (an infection-related illness that could be fatal), and death.

Who are At Risk?

A number of different populations are more vulnerable to haemorrhagic shock than others. The following groups are:

  • People who have conditions that affect blood clotting, such as haemophilia
  • People who take blood thinners or other medications that interfere with blood clotting
  • People who have suffered traumatic injuries, such as a car accident or a gunshot wound
  • Pregnant women
  • Elderly people

Signs and Symptoms

If you are at risk of haemorrhagic shock, it is crucial to get medical help right away if you encounter any of these signs. These include:

  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Confusion or mental fog
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Pale, cool, and clammy skin
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Weak and rapid pulse

First Aid for Haemorrhagic Shock

When providing emergency care, make sure you follow safety precautions as with any emergency treatment. The first aid steps for haemorrhagic shock are as follows:

  1. Call the local hotline or triple zero (000) immediately.
  2. Apply direct pressure to the site of bleeding.
  3. Elevate the legs above the level of the heart.
  4. Administer oxygen if available.
  5. Monitor vital signs and administer fluids as directed by medical personnel.

"Emergency care: Follow safety steps. Treat haemorrhagic shock."

Haemorrhagic Shock Treatment

The main goal of treatment for haemorrhagic shock is to restore blood flow and volume. This is done by giving fluids intravenously (through a vein) or by transfusing blood products. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary to stop the bleeding.

Intravenous Fluids

Intravenous (IV) fluids are a mainstay of treatment for hemorrhagic shock. They can be used to help maintain blood pressure and improve perfusion to vital organs. IV fluids can also help replace lost blood volume and provide essential electrolytes.

Blood Transfusion

Is the next step if intravenous fluids are not sufficient to stabilise the patient


Are used to raise blood pressure and improve perfusion in patients who remain hypotensive despite fluid resuscitation.


Is required to control bleeding in some cases, which may involve packing wounds and ligation of bleeders. In some cases, fresh frozen plasma or platelets may be administered.

Best Practices in Preventing Haemorrhagic Shock

There are a few ways that medical professionals recommend to prevent haemorrhagic shock:

Firstly, it is important to control any bleeding as soon as possible. This can be done by applying direct pressure to the wound and elevating the limb if possible.

If the bleeding is severe, then a tourniquet may need to be applied. 

It is also important to replace any lost fluids as soon as possible through intravenous fluids or blood transfusions. 

I’m Interested to be a First Aider, Where Can I Enrol?

CPR First Aid (RTO 21903) is a leading provider of compliant and high quality first aid training. Our first aid courses at Cnr Ferry Rd and, Cotlew St E, Southport 4215 and several other locations are tailored to best suit your needs. Classes are dynamic, delivered by fully qualified trainers, and packed with varied emergency scenarios to 100% prepare you for unfavourable workplace or community circumstances. Call us for more information.

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