Shock (circulatory)

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Circulatory shock, commonly known simply as shock, is a serious, life-threatening medical condition defined as an inadequate perfusion of tissues which is insufficient to meet cellular metabolic needs. As the blood carries oxygen and nutrients around the body, reduced flow hinders the delivery of these components to the tissues, and can stop the tissues from functioning properly.[1] The process of blood entering the tissues is called perfusion, so when perfusion is not occurring properly this is called a hypoperfusional (hypo = below) state.

A circulatory shock should not be confused with the emotional state of shock, as the two are not related. Medical shock is a life-threatening medical emergency and one of the most common causes of death for critically ill people. Shock can have a variety of effects, all with similar outcomes, but all relate to a problem with the body's circulatory system. For example, shock may lead to hypoxemia (a lack of oxygen in arterial blood) or cardiac arrest (the heart stopping).[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

The essential signs of shock are seen as tachycardia/tachypnoea (compensatory mechanisms), hypotension, and signs of poor end-organ perfusion (such as low urine output, confusion or loss of consciousness) (failure to compensate). Other signs should be looked for to establish the underlying cause for the shock to guide effective treatment.

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