A circulatory collapse is defined as a general or specific failure of the circulation, either cardiac or peripheral in nature. Although the mechanisms, causes and clinical syndromes are different the pathogenesis is the same, the circulatory system fails to maintain the supply of oxygen and other nutrients to the tissues and to remove the carbon dioxide and other metabolites from them. The failure may be hypovolemic, distributive.

A common cause of this could be shock[1] or trauma from injury or surgery.[2]

A general failure is one that occurs across a wide range of locations in the body, such as systemic shock after the loss of a large amount of blood collapsing all the circulatory systems in the legs. A specific failure can be traced to a particular point, such as a clot.

Cardiac circulatory collapse affects the vessels of the heart such as the aorta and is almost always fatal. It is sometimes referred to as “acute” circulatory failure.

Peripheral circulatory collapse involves outlying arteries and veins in the body and can result in gangrene, organ failure or other serious complications. This form is sometimes called peripheral vascular failure, shock or peripheral vascular shutdown.

A milder or preliminary form of circulatory collapse is circulatory insufficiency.

Circulatory shock, commonly known as shock, is a life-threatening medical condition of low blood perfusion to tissues resulting in cellular injury and inadequate tissue function. The typical signs of shock are low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and signs of poor end-organ perfusion (i.e.: low urine output, confusion, or loss of consciousness).

The shock index (SI), defined as heart rate divided by systolic blood pressure, is an accurate diagnostic measure that is more useful than hypotension and tachycardia in isolation. Under normal conditions, a number between 0.5 and 0.8 is typically seen. Should that number increase, so does suspicion of an underlying state of shock. Blood pressure alone may not be a reliable sign for shock, as there are times when a person is in circulatory shock but has a stable blood pressure.

Circulatory shock is not related to the emotional state of shock. Circulatory shock is a life-threatening medical emergency and one of the most common causes of death for critically ill people. Shock can have a variety of effects, all with similar outcomes, but all relate to a problem with the body’s circulatory system. For example, shock may lead to hypoxemia (a lack of oxygen in arterial blood) or cardiac and/or respiratory arrest.

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