Identifying cardiogenic shock in the emergency department

Published:September 23, 2020DOI:



      Cardiogenic shock is difficult to diagnose due to diverse presentations, overlap with other shock states (i.e. sepsis), poorly understood pathophysiology, complex and multifactorial causes, and varied hemodynamic parameters. Despite advances in interventions, mortality in patients with cardiogenic shock remains high. Emergency clinicians must be ready to recognize and start appropriate therapy for cardiogenic shock early.


      This review will discuss the clinical evaluation and diagnosis of cardiogenic shock in the emergency department with a focus on the emergency clinician.


      The most common cause of cardiogenic shock is a myocardial infarction, though many causes exist. It is classically diagnosed by invasive hemodynamic measures, but the diagnosis can be made in the emergency department by clinical evaluation, diagnostic studies, and ultrasound. Early recognition and stabilization improve morbidity and mortality. This review will focus on identification of cardiogenic shock through clinical examination, laboratory studies, and point-of-care ultrasound.


      The emergency clinician should use the clinical examination, laboratory studies, electrocardiogram, and point-of-care ultrasound to aid in the identification of cardiogenic shock. Cardiogenic shock has the potential for significant morbidity and mortality if not recognized early.


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