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Hypovolemic Shock

It is a life threatening medical emergency in which the heart is unable to pump oxygen rich blood to the vital organs of the body and can cause many organs to stop working.


Hypovolemic shock happens due to decreased blood volume, losing about 1/5 or more of the normal amount of blood in the body causes hypovolemic shock. It is caused by:

  1. Blood loss from bleeding, it can be bleeding from a cut, or internal bleeding.
  2. Loss of blood plasma due to severe burns, this happens due to loss of skin and damage to the blood vessels.
  3. Dehydration ie, diarrhea or vomiting (loss of a lot of body fluids may lead to a drop in the amount of circulatory blood).

Signs and symptoms:

  1. Anxiety or agitation.
  2. Cold, pale skin.
  3. Confusion.
  4. General weakness.
  5. Low blood pressure.
  6. Rapid pulse.
  7. Decreased or no urine output.
  8. If severe it can lead to unconsciousness.
  • It is usually diagnosed based on the clinical features and physical exam, blood tests and other diagnostic methods might be needed to determine the exact cause of shock if it is not clear.


  • It is a medical emergency, call 911 or take the person to the emergency room.
  • While waiting for medical help:
  1. Ensure that the airways are open and the person is breathing.
  2. Place the person on his back and elevate the legs 6-12 inches unless there is a suspected back or neck injury where the person should be immobilized.
  3. Keep the person warm.
  4. Try to stop bleeding from an obvious bleeding site by applying direct pressure.
  5. If the person is vomiting or there is bleeding from or around the mouth, place the person on their side or back with head turned to the side to avoid suffocation unless there is a head or neck injury.
  • Hypovolemic shock is treated by replacing the fluid and/or blood, usually done through an IV line, in addition to treating the cause.
  • The more severe the burn is, the higher the possibility that hypovolemic shock will occur.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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