Critical Illness-Related Corticosteroid Insufficiency in Cardiogenic Shock Patients: Prevalence and Prognostic Role

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Cardiogenic shock shares with septic shock common hemodynamic features, inflammatory patterns and most likely similar complications such as critical illness-related corticosteroid insufficiency. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of critical illness-related corticosteroid insufficiency in cardiogenic shock patients and to secondarily assess its prognostic value on 90-day mortality.


A single-centre prospective observational study conducted over a three-year period and including all patients with cardiogenic shock. Main exclusion criteria were patients with prior cardiac arrest, sepsis, ongoing corticosteroid therapy, and etomidate administration. A short corticotropin test was performed in the first 24 hours following admission. Serum cortisol levels were measured before (T0) and 60 min (T60) after administration of 250 μg of cosyntropin. Critical illness-related corticosteroid insufficiency was defined according to the 2017 consensus definition (basal total cortisol<10 μg.dL−1 or a delta cortisol T60-T0<9 μg.dL−1) as well as the thresholds published in 2016 in cardiogenic shock patients associated with worst prognosis (basal total cortisol>29 μg.dL−1 and delta cortisol T60-T0<17 μg.dL−1).


Seventy-nine consecutive patients hospitalized in intensive care for cardiogenic shock met the inclusion criteria. Overall mortality was 43% at day 90. Forty-two percent had critical illness-related corticosteroid insufficiency using the 2017 consensus definition and 32% using the 2016 cardiogenic shock thresholds. Presence of critical illness-related corticosteroid insufficiency was not an independent factor associated with 90-day mortality irrespective of the thresholds used.


Critical illness-related corticosteroid insufficiency is a frequent occurrence in medical cardiogenic shock. However, in this study, such insufficiency was not associated with prognosis.

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