In most cases, a lack of oxygen to your heart, usually from a heart attack, damages its main pumping chamber (left ventricle). Without oxygen-rich blood circulating to that area of your heart, the heart muscle can weaken and go into cardiogenic shock.
Rarely, damage to your heart’s right ventricle, which sends blood to your lungs to receive oxygen, leads to cardiogenic shock.
Other possible causes of cardiogenic shock include:
- Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis)
- Infection of the heart valves (endocarditis)
- Weakened heart from any cause
- Drug overdoses or poisoning with substances that can affect your heart’s pumping ability
If you have a heart attack, your risk of developing cardiogenic shock increases if you:
- Are older
- Have a history of heart failure or heart attack
- Have blockages (coronary artery disease) in several of your heart’s main arteries
- Have diabetes or high blood pressure
- Are female
If not treated immediately, cardiogenic shock can be fatal. Another serious complication is damage to your liver, kidneys or other organs from lack of oxygen, which can be permanent.
The best way to prevent cardiogenic shock is to make lifestyle changes to keep your heart healthy and your blood pressure in check.
- Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Several years after quitting smoking, your risk of stroke is the same as that of a nonsmoker.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight contributes to other risk factors for heart attack and cardiogenic shock, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.
- Eat less cholesterol and saturated fat. Limiting these, especially saturated fat, can reduce your risk of heart disease. Avoid trans fat.
- Limit added sugar and alcohol. This will help you avoid nutrient-poor calories and help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise can lower your blood pressure, increase your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and improve the overall health of your blood vessels and heart. Gradually work up to 30 minutes of activity — such as walking, jogging, swimming or bicycling — on most, if not all, days of the week.
If you have a heart attack, quick action can help prevent cardiogenic shock. Seek emergency medical help if you think you’re having a heart attack.
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