Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 67

shock

blood pressure loss vessels

A term used by the lay public to denote the psychological state of fear or grief that follows a sudden accident, calamity, or bereavement. Its medical use refers to a clinical state in which the blood pressure and circulation is insufficient to maintain the functioning of the brain or other organs. This may arise because of loss of blood, because of inadequate pumping of blood by the heart, or because the capacity of the blood vessels to hold a normal amount of blood is suddenly increased. Serious bleeding following trauma leads to shock because the normal response of blood vessels to contract after blood loss is unable to compensate for the loss of blood volume. Acute heart failure arising from a myocardial infarct may result in failure to maintain the necessary blood pressure. Septicaemia sometimes causes the abnormal dilation of blood vessels, and so lowers the blood pressure.

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