From cardiac output to blood flow auto-regulation in shock

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Hollmann D. Aya, Andrea Carsetti, Simone Bazurro, Davide Bastoni, Manu L.N.G. Malbrain, Maurizio Cecconi


Shock is defined as a state in which the circulation is unable to deliver sufficient oxygen to meet the demands of the tissues, resulting in cellular dysoxia and organ failure. In this process, the factors that govern the circulation at a haemodynamic level and oxygen delivery at a microcirculatory level play a major role. This manuscript aims to review the blood flow regulation from macro- and micro-haemodynamic point of view and to discuss new potential therapeutic approaches for cardiovascular instability in patients in cardiovascular shock. Despite the recent advances in haemodynamics, the mechanisms that control the vascular resistance and the venous return are not fully understood in critically ill patients. The physical properties of the vascular wall, as well as the role of the mean systemic filling pressure are topics that require further research. However, the haemodynamics do not totally explain the physiopathology of cellular dysoxia, and several factors such as inflammatory changes at the microcirculatory level can modify vascular resistance and tissue perfusion. Cellular vasoactive mediators and endothelial and glucocalix damage are also involved in microcirculatory impairment. All the levels of the circulatory system must be taken into account. Evaluation of microcirculation may help one to detect under-diagnosed shock, and together with classic haemodynamics, guide one towards the appropriate therapy. Restoration of classic haemodynamic parameters is essential but not sufficient to detect and treat patients in cardiovascular shock.

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