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Shock is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Inadequate supply of blood flow to tissues to meet the demandsof the tissues
  • Tissue oxygen requirements are not fulfilled.
  • Toxic metabolites are not removed.
  • If untreated, inevitable progression from inadequate perfusion to organ dysfunction and ultimately to death.
  • Major categories of shock:
    • Hypovolemic shock:
      • Decreased blood volume
      • Suspect hemorrhage if acute onset
      • Severe dehydration if progressive onset and elevated hematocrit, BUN, and creatinine
    • Obstructive (cardiogenic) shock:
      • Decreased cardiac output and tissue hypoxia with adequate intravascular volume and myocardial dysfunction
      • Venous congestion with increase in central venous pressure
      • Compensatory increase in SVR
      • May be caused by cardiac dysfunction, obstruction to inflow of blood to the heart, or obstruction to outflow of blood from the heart
    • Septic shock:
      • An initial infectious insult overwhelms the immune system.
      • Biochemical messengers (cytokines, leukotrienes, histamines, prostaglandins) cause vessel dilatation.
      • Capillary endothelium becomes disrupted and the vessels leak.
      • Drop in SVR leads to inadequate tissue perfusion.
      • Secondarily, decreased cardiac output from “cardiac stun” resulting in cold septic shock
    • Neurogenic shock:
      • Spinal cord insults disrupt sympathetic stimulation to vessels.
      • Loss of sympathetic tone causes arteriodilating and vasodilatation.
      • Lesions proximal to T4 disrupt sympathetic, spares vagal innervation causing bradycardia.
    • Anaphylactic shock:
      • An antigen stimulates the allergic reaction.
      • Mast cells degranulate.
      • Histamine releases, along with autocoids, stimulate an anaphylaxis cascade.
      • Vascular smooth muscle relaxes.
      • Capillary endothelium leaks.
      • Drop in SVR leads to inadequate tissue perfusion.
    • Pharmacologic agents may cause shock through smooth muscle dilation or myocardial depression.


  • Hypovolemic shock:
    • Abdominal trauma, blunt or penetrating
    • Abortion—complete, partial, or inevitable
    • Anemia—chronic or acute
    • Aneurysms—abdominal, thoracic, dissecting
    • Aortogastric fistula
    • Arteriovenous malformations
    • Blunt trauma
    • Burns
    • Diabetes
    • Diarrhea
    • Diuretics
    • Ruptured ectopic pregnancy
    • Epistaxis
    • Fractures (especially long bones)
    • Hemoptysis
    • GI bleed
    • Mallory–Weiss tear
    • Penetrating trauma
    • Placenta previa
    • Postpartum hemorrhage
    • Retroperitoneal bleed
    • Severe ascites
    • Splenic rupture
  • Toxic epidermal necrolysis:
    • Vascular injuries
    • Vomiting
  • Cardiogenic shock:
    • Cardiomyopathy
    • Conduction abnormalities and arrhythmias
    • MI
    • Myocardial contusion
    • Myocarditis
    • Pericardial tamponade
    • Pulmonary embolus
    • Tension pneumothorax
    • Valvular insufficiency
    • Ventricular septal defect
  • Vasogenic shock:
    • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
    • Bacterial infection
    • Bowel perforation
    • Cellulitis
    • Cholangitis
    • Cholecystitis
    • Endocarditis
    • Endometritis
    • Fungemia
    • Infected indwelling prosthetic device
    • Intra-abdominal infection or abscess
    • Mediastinitis
    • Meningitis
    • Myometritis
    • Pelvic inflammatory disease
    • Peritonitis
    • Pyelonephritis
    • Pharyngitis
    • Pneumonia
    • Septic arthritis
    • Thrombophlebitis
    • Tubo-ovarian abscess
    • Urosepsis
  • Anaphylactic:
    • Drug reaction (most commonly to aspirin, β-lactam antibiotics)
    • Exercise (rare)
    • Food allergy (peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, soy, and wheat account for 90% of food-related anaphylaxis)
    • Insect sting
    • Latex
    • Radiographic contrast materials
    • Synthetic products
  • Pharmacologic:
    • Antihypertensives
    • Antidepressants
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Cholinergics
    • Digoxin
    • Narcotics
    • Nitrates
  • Neurogenic:
    • Spinal cord injury

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Shock." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307373/all/Shock.
Shock. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307373/all/Shock. Accessed June 18, 2019.
Shock. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307373/all/Shock
Shock [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 June 18]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307373/all/Shock.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Shock ID - 307373 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307373/all/Shock PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -