circulatory failure

Circulatory collapse

A circulatory collapse is defined as a general or specific failure of the circulation, either cardiac or peripheral in nature. A common cause of this could be shock or trauma from injury or surgery . A "general failure" is one that occurs across a wide range of locations in the body, such as systemic shock after the loss of a large amount of blood collapsing all the circulatory systems in the legs. A specific failure can be traced to a particular point, such as a clot.

Cardiac circulatory collapse affects the vessels of the heart such as the aorta and is almost always fatal. It is sometimes referred to as "acute" circulatory failure.

Peripheral circulatory collapse involves outlying arteries and veins in the body and can result in gangrene, organ failure or other serious complications. This form is sometimes called peripheral vascular failure, shock or peripheral vascular shutdown.


The effects of a circulatory collapse vary based on the type of collapse it is. Periphial collapses usually involve abnormally low blood pressure and result in collapsed arteries and/or veins, leading to oxygen deprivation to tissues, organs, and limbs.

Acute collapse can result from heart failure and results in collapse of the primary vessels of the heart collapsing, perhaps combined with cardiac arrest.


A very large range of medical conditions can cause circulatory collapse. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Surgery, particularly on patients who have lost blood.
  • Blood clots, including the use of some platelet-activating factor drugs in some animals and humans
  • Dengue Fever
  • Shock
  • Heart Disease
  • Drugs that affect blood pressure


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