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Hemorrhagic shock with paradoxical bradycardia

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Two hundred and seventy-three acute hemorrhagic shocks were treated in 1984 in a pre-hospital emergency care unit. Twenty patients (7%) had a paradoxical bradycardia: they were conscious, 9 of them had an undetectable systolic arterial pressure with the sphygomomanometric method but the femoral pulse was still present. All of them recovered from bradycardia with fluid loading alone. The comparison between patients with paradoxical bradycardia and those with tachycardia showed that the former had more severe and rapid hemorrhages. During 1985, 7 new cases of acute hemorrhagic shock with paradoxical bradycardia were treated with an antishock trouser. These patients recovered from bradycardia more quickly (p<0.01) and with a less important fluid loading (p<0.01) than those previously treated without the antishock trouser. Two other patients were treated with atropine before antishock trouser inflation and experienced ventricular premature beats and one developed ventricular fibrillation. A paradoxical bradycardia can occur in hemorrhagic shock and denotes a rapid and severe hemorrhage requiring a massive and rapid fluid loading. The preliminary results of the antishock trouser in this setting are encouraging. The treatment of bradycardia per se may be deleterious and atropine must be avoided in conscious patients with hemorrhagic shock and paradoxical bradycardia.

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Barriot, P., Riou, B. Hemorrhagic shock with paradoxical bradycardia. Intensive Care Med 13, 203–207 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00254705

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Key words

  • Hemorrhagic shock
  • Acute hypovolemia
  • Bradycardia
  • Antishock trouser