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Am J Surg. 2006 Dec;192(6):727-31.

Systemic hypotension is a late marker of shock after trauma: a validation study of Advanced Trauma Life Support principles in a large national sample.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Burns, Trauma, Surgical Critical Care, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75390-9158, USA.



Systolic blood pressure is used extensively to triage trauma patients as stable or unstable, contrary to Advanced Trauma Life Support recommendations. We hypothesized that systemic hypotension is a late marker of shock.


The National Trauma Data Bank was queried (n = 115,830). Base deficit was used as a measure of circulatory shock. Systolic blood pressure was correlated with the presence and the severity of base-deficit derangement.


Systolic blood pressure correlated poorly with base deficit (r = .28). There was wide variation in systolic blood pressure within each base-deficit group. The mean and median systolic blood pressure did not decrease to less than 90 mm Hg until the base deficit was worse than -20, with mortality reaching 65%.


We validated the Advanced Trauma Life Support principle that systemic hypotension is a late marker of shock. A normal blood pressure should not deter aggressive evaluation and resuscitation of trauma patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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