Obstructive shock is a condition that prevents blood and oxygen from getting to your organs. You need immediate treatment of the problem that caused this emergency, such as a blood clot or collapsed lung. Survival rates for this rare type of shock are better than survival rates for more common types of shock.
With any type of shock, your entire body can’t get enough blood flow, which means it can’t get enough oxygen. With obstructive shock, something is obstructing or getting in the way of blood going into and out of your heart or great vessels (major blood vessels connected to your heart). This obstruction can quickly lead to a huge drop in blood pressure and the amount of blood your heart is able to pump. The shortage of oxygen this creates affects all of your organs.
Obstructive shock is an emergency. You need treatment right away.
Both are medical emergencies, but they have different causes.
With cardiogenic shock, your heart is unable to meet your body’s metabolic demands due to a problem with your heart muscle itself. This occurs most commonly after a heart attack stuns or permanently injures a large portion of your heart muscle, resulting in poor output.
With obstructive shock, there’s also poor cardiac output. However, your heart muscle itself is often fine, but some other process that impairs heart performance interferes with it. Examples include:
Obstructive shock is a rare type of shock, making up about 1% or 2% of shock cases. It has a higher survival rate than the more common types of shock.
If obstructive shock is not treated quickly, it can keep your major organs from getting the oxygen and nutrients they need. This can lead to organ damage and can be fatal. Quick treatment is very important to limit the damage that a lack of oxygen can cause.
Symptoms can be similar to cardiogenic shock symptoms. Obstructive shock symptoms include:
Causes of obstructive shock include:
Your healthcare provider will do a physical exam that includes listening to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope. A quick diagnosis is important because obstructive shock gets worse quickly.
Your provider will diagnose obstructive shock with:
After giving you IV fluids and checking your blood pressure and oxygen level, your healthcare provider will need to treat the cause of your obstructive shock.
Possible obstructive shock treatments include:
Your provider may give you:
Many of the treatments for the causes of obstructive shock must be done quickly to give you the best chance of survival. Fortunately, these treatments work fairly quickly. Still, it will take time for your body to recover from the effects of obstructive shock after your provider treats the cause of it.
Obstructive shock is fatal for most people who don’t get treatment. How well you do after treatment will depend on:
Obstructive shock has a higher survival rate than more common types of shock, such as septic shock.
After your healthcare provider discharges you from the hospital, you should follow their instructions for taking care of yourself. You may need to rest at home for a while before going back to work. Be sure to keep taking any medicines your provider ordered for you.
Keep going to any follow-up appointments and contact your provider if anything changes with your condition.
Learn to recognize the signs of the problem that caused your obstructive shock in case it happens again. When you see those symptoms or your family sees them in you, you or they should call 911.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Obstructive shock is a rare but serious condition that requires immediate treatment. Once your healthcare provider finds the cause of your obstructive shock, they can work on the problem. Many people can survive obstructive shock, but most likely need time to recover. Take care of yourself and follow your provider’s instructions.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/16/2022.
Learn more about our editorial process.