In most cases of cardiogenic shock, the left ventricle of the heart has become damaged as a result of myocardial infarction. Common symptoms of cardiogenic shock include a rapid heart rate and shortness of breath.
The pumping action of ventricular muscles is determined by the following:
- Contractility of the heart
- Heart rate
- Preload or the filling pressure of the heart during diastole
- Afterload or the pressure with which the heart pumps blood out into the circulation
As the preload increases, so does the cardiac output and eventually the muscle walls become so stretched, they can no longer increase the force at which the ventricle pumps and ventricular function deteriorates. If enough ventricular function is lost, cardiogenic shock may result.
Some examples of cardiogenic shock symptoms are described below:
- Rapid, weak or irregular pulse caused by poor circulation.
- Cool, clammy skin caused by constriction of blood vessels in the skin.
- Anxiety, restlessness and confusion caused by compromised blood supply to the brain (hypoxia). Hypoxia can eventually lead to coma.
- Increased respiration rate due to stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system.
- A sharp fall in blood pressure due to falling cardiac output.
- Distended jugular veins due to rise in jugular venous pressure.
- Pulmonary edema due to ineffective pumping of the heart causing fluid to move back into the lungs.
- There may be a low urine output or oliguria due to decreased blood supply to the kidneys.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc