Cardiogenic Shock Vs Heart Failure

Let's understand cardiogenic shock vs heart failure

If a friend, relative or stranger collapsed and appeared to have stopped breathing, would you know the difference between cardiogenic shock vs heart failure?

Understanding these two conditions is vital to patient survival.

What is cardiogenic shock?

Cardiogenic shock occurs when your heart can’t pump enough blood to sustain your body and therefore fails. It has different causes, the largest being massive heart attacks which lead to cardiogenic shock. It is very rare but can also be fatal if left untreated, and has a fifty percent survival rate. Any patient suspected of cardiogenic shock should seek medical help immediately. It is specifically characterized by large blood clots found in the lungs, as well as low blood pressure and low oxygen in the blood supply. It is important to note that there is a very high fatality rate from cardiogenic shock.

Symptoms of cardiogenic shock

Symptoms can include shortness of breath or rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat also known as tachycardia, loss of consciousness, sweats and pale or cold hands and feet, chest pain, a decrease in urination, or a weak pulse.

Causes of cardiogenic shock

The most likely cause is from a heart attack. A massive heart attack can cause cardiogenic shock as well as these symptoms. Part of the heart muscle may be so damaged that it cannot move and no longer works. There can be a rupture in the tissue of the heart, leading to the inability for the heart to properly function. The heartbeat can slow to a pace that cannot sustain the needs of the body. It can also be caused by large blood clots in the lungs known in the medical field as a pulmonary embolus.

Heart failure

Heart failure is characterized by the muscles of the heart being weakened to the point where it cannot pump enough blood for the body’s needs. The effects are similar to cardiogenic shock though they have different causes, which is the main difference between the two. Heart failure can be deterred more so than cardiogenic shock, and there are various steps one can take to help heart failure. It is a serious condition and is not necessarily curable but can be treated with the right steps.

Heart failure symptoms

Symptoms of heart failure include rapid or irregular heartbeats, fatigue, and weakness. You may have a lingering cough that is coupled with wheezing or noticeable phlegm. Many also experience swelling in their legs and feet, as well as other areas. Swelling of the abdomen, also known as ascites, can be an especially dangerous symptom since it can directly affect the function of your internal organs. If you experience any of these and suspect heart failure, you should see a doctor immediately for professional advice.

Causes of heart failure

There are various causes of heart failure, the top being coronary artery disease and heart attacks. There can also be other problems present that you may not even know about like high blood pressure, damage to the heart muscles, and abnormal heartbeats. It can even be caused by heart defects that have been present since birth.

Cardiogenic shock vs heart failure: What's the difference?

The main difference between the cardiogenic shock vs heart failure is the causes and fatality rates differences. While they do result in the same inability for the heart to pump enough blood to properly maintain the body, the causes of each differ. Heart attacks are one cause that both conditions share, but in general, heart failure is a condition that develops over time and can be treated over a person’s life.

Cardiogenic shock can come on fast and should be treated immediately as the symptoms may often go completely unnoticed. Patients with cardiogenic shock have damage that can often be seen in the coronary arteries, and therefore it is a much more serious problem. Over eighty percent of patients with cardiogenic shock die within a three-day period. Those with heart failure, however, have a fatality rate of only twenty percent.

Regardless, these are both very dire and if you think you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, you should get to a doctor right away. The fact that the fatality rate is so high in the cases of cardiogenic shock make it imperative to be on the lookout for these symptoms and to seek out a hospital right away. The first twenty-four hours could mean life or death.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
September 07, 2017
Last Updated:
October 04, 2017