Cardiogenic Shock
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Cardiogenic Shock

Cardiogenic Shock Causes and Risk Factors

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What causes cardiogenic shock?

A heart attack is the most common cause of cardiogenic shock. Less often, another heart problem or a problem somewhere else in the body blocks blood flow coming into or out of the heart and leads to cardiogenic shock.

Heart attack and other heart problems

Cardiogenic shock usually develops very quickly when it follows a heart attack. Other heart conditions, such as heart failure or arrhythmia, can make it harder for the heart to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the organs, leading to cardiogenic shock.

Problems outside the heart

Cardiogenic shock can be caused by problems outside the heart, including fluid buildup in the chest, internal bleeding or blood loss, or pulmonary embolism, which occurs when a blood clot gets stuck in an artery of the lung. Trauma or injury to the chest can damage the heart so that it no longer pumps blood effectively.

Medicines or procedures

Rarely, some medicines can cause cardiogenic shock if you take a dose that is too high, or if your heart is not working well after a heart attack or other heart problem. Examples include heart medicines, such as beta blockers or calcium channel blockers, that treat high blood pressure. It is rare for medicines to cause cardiogenic shock, and you can lower your risk by taking the right doses at the right time.

Very rarely, a heart procedure, such as cardiac catheterization, may injure the heart itself or cause an abnormal heartbeat, called arrhythmia, that leads to cardiogenic shock.

Can cardiogenic shock be prevented?

The main cause of cardiogenic shock is a heart attack, which is a complication of coronary heart disease. You can lower your risk of cardiogenic shock by taking steps to prevent a heart attack or other heart problems. This means adopting heart-healthy lifestyle changes to help prevent or treat coronary heart disease.

Are you at risk for cardiogenic shock?

Certain factors may increase your risk for cardiogenic shock.

  • Age: People who are 75 or older have increased risk.
  • Race or ethnicity: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a higher risk of cardiogenic shock than other racial or ethnic groups. Hispanics and African Americans are not typically at higher risk for cardiogenic shock, but they are less likely than whites to receive emergency lifesaving treatment to restore blood flow when they do have cardiogenic shock.
  • Sex: Cardiogenic shock may be more common in women than men. Women are also less likely than men to receive emergency treatment to restore blood flow when they have cardiogenic shock.
  • Heart and blood vessel problems, such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, and high blood pressure
  • Diabetes and prediabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Past coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)
  • Pneumothorax, a type of pleural disorder that can lead to a collapsed lung
  • Sepsis, a life-threatening inflammatory response to an infection

Learn more about timely treatments for cardiogenic shock and ways to lower your risk for this condition.

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