Shock is a life threatening condition that occurs when blood flow is restricted. This means that the cells don’t get enough oxygen to enable them to work properly, which can lead to damage of the vital organs like the brain and the heart. Cells require oxygen and glucose so when deprived of blood, the tissues begin to die.


  • Rapid pulse.
  • Pale, cold, clammy skin.
  • Sweating.

As shock develops symptoms change:

  • Rapid, shallow breathing.
  • Weak, thready pulse.
  • Grey-blue skin, especially inside lips.
  • Weakness
  • Giddiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Thirst

As the brain’s oxygen supply weakens:

  • Restlessness and aggressive behaviour.
  • Gasping for air.
  • Loss of consciousness.

Shock can be caused by any condition that reduces blood flow, including:

  • Heart problems (such as heart attack or heart failure)
  • Low blood volume (as with heavy bleeding or dehydration)
  • Changes in blood vessels (as with infection or severe allergic reactions)
  • Certain medicines that significantly reduce heart function or blood pressure


In first aid, you would have to help the casualty lie down and then raise and support the legs over the level of the casualties heart.



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