What is the diagnosis of Cardiogenic Shock?

Updated at: Jan 15, 2013
What is the diagnosis of Cardiogenic Shock?

The first step in diagnosing cardiogenic shock is to identify that a person is in shock. Read on to discover the details.

Editorial Team
Heart HealthWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Jan 06, 2013

The first step in diagnosing cardiogenic shock is to identify that a person is in shock. At that point, emergency treatment should be started.

Once emergency treatment starts, doctors can look for the specific cause of the shock. If the reason for the shock is that the heart isn't pumping strongly enough, then the diagnosis is cardiogenic shock.


Tests To Diagnose Shock

Blood Pressure Test

Using a simple blood pressure cuff and stethoscope, medical personnel can check whether a person has very low blood pressure. This is the most common sign of shock. A blood pressure test can easily be done before the person goes to a hospital.

Less serious conditions also can cause low blood pressure, such as fainting or taking certain medicines, such as those used to treat high blood pressure.


EKG (Electrocardiogram)

An EKG is a simple test that detects and records the heart's electrical activity. The test shows how fast the heart is beating and its rhythm (steady or irregular).

An EKG also records the strength and timing of electrical signals as they pass through each part of the heart. Doctors use EKGs to diagnose severe heart attacks and monitor the heart's condition.

Cardiac Enzyme Test

When cells in the heart die, they release enzymes into the blood called markers or biomarkers. Measuring these markers can show whether the heart is damaged and the extent of the damage.


Tests To Diagnose the Underlying Cause of Shock

Chest X Ray

A chest x ray takes pictures of organs and structures inside the chest, including the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. This test shows whether the heart is enlarged or whether there’s fluid in the lungs. These can be signs of cardiogenic shock.


Echocardiography uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The test provides information about the size and shape of the heart and how well the heart chambers and valves are working.

The test also can identify areas of poor blood flow to the heart, areas of heart muscle that aren't contracting normally, and previous injury to the heart muscle caused by poor blood flow.

Coronary Angiography

Coronary angiography (an-jee-OG-ra-fee) is an x-ray exam of the heart and blood vessels. The doctor passes a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) through an artery in the leg or arm to the heart. The catheter can measure the pressure inside the heart chambers.

A dye that can be seen on x ray is injected into the bloodstream through the tip of the catheter. The dye lets the doctor study the flow of blood through the heart and blood vessels and see any blockages.


Blood Tests

Certain blood tests also are used to help diagnose cardiogenic shock, including:

  •     Arterial blood gas measurement - For this test, a blood sample is taken from an artery. The sample is used to measure oxygen, carbon dioxide, and pH (acidity) levels in the blood. Certain levels of these substances are associated with shock.
  •     Tests that measure the function of various organs, such as the kidneys and liver. If these organs aren't working well, it could mean that they aren't getting enough oxygen-rich blood, which could be a sign of cardiogenic shock.



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