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Sepsis Complications Can Occur Up To a Year After Infections Are Treated, Researchers Warn

Patients treated for sepsis while in the hospital face a higher risk of experiencing complications or death after discharge, according to the findings of a new study.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh report that one out of three patients hospitalized for sepsis die within one year, and two-thirds of patients suffer serious long-term side effects from the infection. The findings were published August 7, in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

In the study, researchers evaluated data on 483 patients who survived hospitalization with sepsis at 12 U.S. hospitals from January 2012 to May 2017. The research measured levels of inflammation, immunosuppression, hemostasis endothelial dysfunction, and oxidative stress at five points during and after hospitalization for sepsis for one full year after hospitalization.

The data indicated persistent elevation of inflammation and immunosuppression biomarkers occurred in two-thirds of patients who survived hospitalization for sepsis.

At three months, one-quarter of patients had high levels of inflammation, by six months 30%, and one year later, one-quarter of patients still experienced chronic inflammation.

Also at three months, nearly half of patients had high levels of immunosuppression. That level of immunosuppression stayed consistent for six months and one year later, roughly half of patients were still immunosuppressed.

Sepsis patients also faced serious side effects after being discharged from the hospital, including higher rates of heart disease, stroke, and death. Nearly 80% of patients had at least one chronic disease and readmissions were common.

At three months, nine percent of patients had died, by six months 11% had died, and by one year 17% had died.

Most discharged sepsis patients had levels of inflammation that were twice as high as in healthy people.

Sepsis is the leading cause of death among hospitalized patients. It is an infection of the bloodstream that can spread to other areas of the body and can lead to organ failure. It can also cause decreased blood pressure, fever, and increased heart rate.

Some improved hospital regulations and treatment standards can help reduce sepsis deaths, these include improved recognition protocols. However, most sepsis deaths aren’t preventable.

Sepsis affects more than 30 million people worldwide every year and one out of every three sepsis survivors will die within one year. Researchers in this latest study say addressing chronic inflammation after discharge is crucial to a patient’s long term survival and improved health.

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