Types and Causes of Medical Shock

Anaphylactic shock pic
Anaphylactic shock
Image: webmd.com

Dr. Zachary Lutsky serves the public as a board-certified emergency room physician. Most recently in practice at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Dr. Zachary Lutsky applied an in-depth knowledge of shock and its treatment.

Shock is a life-threatening medical condition in which the blood pressure drops so low that vital organs do not receive sufficient oxygen. There are a number of types of shock, each of which has a different root cause.

Anaphylactic shock, for example, results from an allergic reaction. It occurs when exposure to an allergen activates an excessive immune response that causes a tightening of the airways, a change in heart rhythm, and swelling of the facial tissues.

Cardiogenic shock occurs due to severe heart damage, most often from a heart attack or other serious cardiac condition. This can cause a number of structural or functional abnormalities, such as paralysis or tears in the heart muscle, and prevent the heart from pumping enough blood.

Hypovolemic shock follows a similar process in that excessive blood or fluid loss leaves the heart incapable of pumping properly. Septic shock, on the other hand, develops due to an inflammatory response associated with the toxins of a systemic infection, while neurogenic shock arises as a result of injury or trauma to the spinal cord.

Any case of shock constitutes a medical emergency. Without the delivery of fluids to raise blood pressure and treatment targeted at the cause of shock, the patient can go into organ failure and die.