Symptoms Of Circulatory Shock: Types, Causes And Treatment

Shock for general mass is an emotional reaction to stressful situation. But in medical parlance shock has different meaning. It is life threatening condition in which the tissue and cells do not receive adequate amount of oxygen and nutrients for maintaining their function and survival.

Circulatory shock due to lack of oxygen and nutrients will lead to progressive damage to vital organs leading to gradual organ failure and finally if not treated can lead to death. Circulatory shock is more common in people who have critical health condition.

The typical symptom of circulatory shock is rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, low urine output, loss of consciousness and weak pulse.

Most of the symptoms of circulatory shock are related with abnormal cardiac function. Circulatory shock is an emergency and should be treated immediately as it is life threatening.

Sign And Symptoms Of Circulatory Shock

Circulatory shock is a complex clinical syndrome. There is acute compromise of blood flow to the vital organs to the extent that normal function of cells cannot be sustained. It is called hypoperfusion. The best examples of circulatory shock are cardiac attack and state of hypoxemia. Perfusion of oxygen and nutrients is comprised of a pump (heart), conducting tubes (blood vessels), and the fluid that carries them (blood) in the body.

Any type of impairment in these components can give rise to symptoms of shock.

Shock can be categorized as obstructive shock, cardiogenic shock, hypovolemic shock, and distributive shock. The reason underlying all the types is fundamentally same. Following are the symptoms observed in shock:

  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Decreased urine output. It is less than 0.5 ml/kg/hour.
  • Cold and clammy extremities indicate poor tissue perfusion.
  • Cyanosis, a condition in which the skin, lips, tongue and nails turn blue due to critical impairment of oxygen perfusion.
  • Septic shock is severe response to infection. It is associated with hypotension, hypoperfusion and organ dysfunction. Fever and excessive sweating are early findings in septic shock.
  • Restlessness, anxiety, tiredness, disorientation are some of the symptoms of hypovolemic shock in addition to other symptoms such as low blood pressure etc. The skin becomes mottled and cold.
  • The condition is considered to be serious with the onset of organ failure. In most of the cases the outcome is fatal.

Types And Causes Of Circulatory Shock

Circulatory shock can occur due to several causes. The basic reason is low perfusion of oxygen and nutrients such as glucose that are required for better functioning and survival of each and every cell. Hypovolemic shock can occur due to loss of fluid from the body as in case of massive hemorrhage or fluid (diarrhea, increased urination). Cardiogenic shock develops as a result of pump failure that is the heart. Acute myocardial infarction, toxins and trauma are some of the causes.

Circulatory shock can result from obstruction and blockage of free passage of blood due to either problem within the body such as pulmonary embolism, heart valve defect, or pressure from outside as in case of tension pneomothorax, pericardial tamponade etc. It can also develop due to abnormal dilatation of vessels which causes sudden increase of vascular capacity without availability of fluid to fill the space. This can occur in sepsis, anaphylaxis reaction etc.

Treatment For Circulatory Shock

Circulatory shock is life threatening, but recovery from the illness is possible if the condition is detected and treated in the initial stage of its occurrence. Patient needs to be hospitalized in an intensive care unit where his blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, urine output can be continuously monitored and assessed.

The first step in managing shock is to administer intravenous fluids, unless the patient is in pulmonary edema. Artificial oxygen supplementation may be necessary if there is low oxygen saturation in the tissue. All measures are taken to augment cardiac output. Restoring circulating volume in patient with shock is carried out with the help of several drugs.