At a cardiac arrest, the first procedure is to take your own pulse.*
Author, Samuel Shem, M.D.
There is no more exciting topic in medicine than the cardiovascular (CV) system: that is the reason why it leads off as the first topic in Exploring Medicine. Life starts and stops, literally, with this system. When you are the physician charged with the responsibility of caring for a critically ill patient, you must have a strong working knowledge of this system. In order to cover a topic as broad as this in a single chapter, an emphasis will be placed on just the key elements as we break this system into a few basic parts. The goal of this chapter is to have you develop enough of an understanding of the fundamentals of the CV system that you will be prepared to discuss the designated pathophysiologic** process at the end of the chapter: shock.