Hypovolemic shock


Hypovolemic shock is an emergency condition in which severe blood and fluid loss make the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body. This type of shock can cause many organs to stop working.

Alternative Names

Shock - hypovolemic


Losing about 1/5 or more of the normal amount of blood in your body causes hypovolemic shock.

Blood loss can be due to:

The amount of circulating blood in your body may drop when you lose too many other body fluids, which can happen with:


The greater and more rapid the blood loss, the more severe the symptoms of shock.

Exams and Tests

An examination shows signs of shock, including:

Tests that may be done include:

This list may not be all-inclusive.


Get immediate medical help. In the meantime, follow these steps:

The goal of hospital treatment is to replace blood and fluids. An intravenous (IV) line will be put into the person's arm to allow blood or blood products to be given.

Medicines such as dopamine, dobutamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine may be needed to increase blood pressure and the amount of blood pumped out of the heart (cardiac output).

Other methods that may be used to manage shock and monitor the response to treatment include:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Hypovolemic shock is always a medical emergency. However, symptoms and outcomes can vary depending on:

In general, patients with milder degrees of shock tend to do better than those with more severe shock. In cases of severe hypovolemic shock, death is possible even with immediate medical attention. The elderly are more likely to have poor outcomes from shock.

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Hypovolemic shock is a medical emergency. Call the local emergency number (such as 911) or take the person to the emergency room.


Preventing shock is easier than trying to treat it once it happens. Quickly treating the cause will reduce the risk of developing severe shock. Early first aid can help control shock.


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Spaniol JR, Knight AR, Zebley JL, Anderson D, Pierce JD. Fluid resuscitation therapy for hemorrhagic shock. J Trauma Nurs. 2007;14:152-156.

Jones AE, Kline JA. Shock. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 4.

Tarrant AM, Ryan MF, Hamilton PA, Bejaminov O. A pictorial review of hypovolaemic shock in adults. Br J Radiol. 2008;81:252-257.

den Uil CA, Klijn E, Lagrand WK, Brugts JJ, Ince C, Spronk PE, Simoons ML. The microcirculation in health and critical disease. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2008;51:161-170.

Review Date: 1/8/2012
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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