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Cardiogenic Shock

Cardiogenic shock happens when your heart suddenly can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood through your body. Most often, cardiogenic shock is caused by a severe heart attack.

Cardiogenic shock can lead to brain damage, organ failure, or death.

It is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate help.

If you or a family member is experiencing a serious heart condition, rely on Baystate Medical Center’s cardiovascular experts. We are known as the best hospital in western Massachusetts for emergency heart care and heart surgery, including LVAD placement and other mechanical circulatory support (MCS) therapy options. In fact, Baystate is the only hospital in the region that provides advanced MCS therapy to treat conditions like cardiogenic shock and heart failure.

Risk Factors

Cardiogenic shock typically occurs after a heart attack, when the muscles in your heart become damaged and can no longer pump blood effectively.

It may also be caused by:

  • Life-threatening irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis)
  • Serious weakening of the heart due to heart failure
  • Fluid build-up around the heart (pericardial tamponade)

Diagnosis

We can diagnose cardiogenic shock with a range of screenings and tests, from a simple blood pressure cuff to an EKG, echo, or angiogram.

Treatment

Cardiogenic shock requires emergency life support treatment, meaning the first priority is to deliver oxygen to your body and restore blood flow.

Our team of highly trained critical care physicians, cardiovascular surgeons, and nurses will assess your symptoms and your health history before recommending the right long-term treatment.

These are common treatment options for cardiogenic shock:

  • Mechanical circulatory support (MCS) is a device that helps your heart do its job by pumping blood. MCS options include ventricular assist devices (VAD), such as LVADs, and total artificial hearts (TAH).
  • Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) is placed in your aorta by an interventional cardiologist or cardiac surgeon. A balloon at its tip is inflated and deflated in time with your heart’s pumping. It helps your heart pump as much blood as possible. The IABP is typically a temporary device that is used until a permanent treatment, such as a coronary artery bypass graft surgery, is an option.
  • Impella Device is a pump that is placed in your heart through a vein or artery. This temporary therapy is used to treat cardiogenic shock or as a way to support your heart during other procedures. It can also be placed as a “bridge therapy” that allows time before another surgery becomes an option. This advanced treatment requires close monitoring by a team of doctors from many specialties in the Davis Heart and Vascular Critical Care Unit.
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) which is a temporary life support machine that replaces the function of the heart and lungs. It uses a pump to circulate blood from the body to an artificial lung (oxygenator) that removes carbon dioxide and adds oxygen. The ECMO machine then returns oxygen-rich blood to the body. It is a “bridge therapy” that allows time for your heart or lungs to heal or time for your care team to determine the best treatment. This advanced treatment requires close monitoring by a team of doctors from many specialties in the Davis Heart and Vascular Critical Care Unit.