What Causes Circulatory Shock?

What is Circulatory Shock

Circulatory shock, commonly known as just shock, is a serious, life-threatening medical condition characterized by a decrease in tissue perfusion to a point at which it is inadequate to meet cellular metabolic needs. As the blood carries oxygen and nutrients around the body, reduced flow hinders the delivery of these components to the tissues, and can stop the tissues from functioning properly. Circulatory shock should not be confused with the emotional state of shock as the two are not related. Medical shock is a life-threatening medical emergency and one of the most common causes of death for critically-ill people. Shock can have a variety of effects, all with similar outcomes, but all relate to a problem with the body’s circulatory system.

Causes of Circulatory Shock

Low-volume shock

Is most common. This a condition brought about by great loss of blood or blood plasma that the remaining blood is insufficient to fill the whole circulatory system. The blood loss may occur outside the body, as in a hemorrhage caused by injury to an artery or vein, or the loss may be internal because of the blood loss at the site of a major fracture, or bleeding ulcer. Fluid loss from vomiting, diarrhea and severe burns can also result in shock. In an adult the loss of 2 pints or 1.2 litres of blood, one fifth of the normal blood volume, shock will occur. Professional treatment involves replacement of blood loss by transfusion.

Neurogenic shock

Manifested by fainting, occurs when the regulating capacity of the nervous system is impaired by severe pain, profound fright, or other overwhelming stimulus. This type of shock is usually relieved by having the victim lie down with his head lower than the rest of his body.

Allergic shock

Also called anaphylactic shock, occurs when the functioning of the blood vessels is disturbed by a person’s sensitivity to the injection of a particular foreign substance, as in the case of an insect sting or certain medicines.

Septic shock

Is the most common cause of shock by dilation of the blood vessels. It is brought on by infection from certain bacteria that release a poison which affects the proper functioning of the blood vessels. This further exacerbated by reductions in total blood volume caused by fluid losses secondary to the infection. Generally, toxins produced by the bacteria are the cause of the dilation.

Cardiac shock

Can be caused by any circumstance that affects the pumping action of the heart. It is possible for a body with adequate blood volume to enter shock due to the heart failing to pump the blood. This may be a result of heart disease, heart attack or acute heart failure.