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Shock From Low Blood Volume

What do doctors call this condition?

Hypovolemic shock, hypovolemic shock syndrome

What is this condition?

In this type of shock, low blood volume causes circulatory problems and inadequate delivery of life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients to the body's vital organs and tissues. Without sufficient blood or fluid replacement, this condition may lead to irreversible brain and kidney damage, cardiac arrest and, ultimately, death.

What causes it?

This type of shock usually is caused by significant loss of blood ­about one-fifth of the body's total. Such massive blood loss may result from gastrointestinal bleeding, hemorrhage, or any condition that reduces blood volume or other body fluids, such as severe burns.

What are its symptoms?

This condition causes low blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, rapid and shallow breathing, reduced urine output, and cold, pale, clammy skin.

How is it diagnosed?

No single symptom or diagnostic test establishes the diagnosis or severity of shock. Characteristic lab test findings include elevated amounts of certain elements in the blood, including potassium and lactate; changes in the physical characteristics of urine; decreased blood pH; decreased oxygen in blood in the arteries; and increased carbon dioxide in blood in the arteries.

In addition, gastroscopy (aspiration of gastric contents through a nasogastric tube) and X-rays identifY internal bleeding sites; coagulation studies may detect bleeding from disseminated intravascular coagulation.

How is it treated?

Emergency treatment must include prompt and adequate blood and fluid replacement to restore blood volume and raise blood pressure.

Treatment may also include oxygen administration, control of bleeding by direct measures (such as applying pressure and elevating an extremity), and possibly surgery.

 

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