Blood poisoning: quick treatment saves lives

Blood poisoning: quick treatment saves lives

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One of the most common causes of death: early detection of sepsis saves lives

Hardly any other disease is underestimated as much as sepsis (“blood poisoning”). It can be fatal within a few hours and is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. On the occasion of World Sepsis Day, health experts want to raise awareness of sepsis in order to promote the early detection of this serious illness.

According to experts, around half a million people fall ill with sepsis in Europe every year, in Austria there are around 18,000 cases a year, 7,500 die of it, reports the Innsbruck Medical University in a statement. “Blood poisoning” remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. World Sepsis Day on September 13th is designed to help raise awareness of sepsis to promote early detection of this serious illness.

Groups of people particularly at risk

When infections in the body get out of control, one speaks of sepsis - also wrongly known as blood poisoning, according to the Innsbruck Medical University. Older people are particularly at risk, but also children under the age of one or patients with chronic illnesses. The disease is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi and their toxins and is one of the most aggressive versions of an infection. Causes can be, for example, wound and urinary tract infections, pneumonia, peritonitis or the flu.

As the experts explain, trying to fight the infection causes the body to overreact. So the patient is less at risk from the attack of bacteria, but rather from the misguided reaction of his own body to this attack. "There is an immunological dysfunction of the host," explains the Innsbruck intensive care physician, Michael Joannidis, head of the joint facility for internal emergency and intensive care medicine at the Medical University of Innsbruck.

Time is a key factor

Once sepsis is there, time is a crucial factor: For quick detection of high-risk patients due to sepsis outside of intensive care units, the quickSOFA score was introduced, which consists of three simple clinical criteria - a respiratory rate of 22 / min or more, impaired consciousness and a systolic Blood pressure less than 100 mm Hg - exists. If at least two of these criteria are met, the likelihood of severe sepsis is increased.

Excessive inflammatory reactions can then lead to organ failure and circulatory collapse within a very short time. Around a fifth of the patients do not survive the out of control infection, the Heidelberg University Hospital said in an older message. There are two main reasons for this: "Sepsis is often recognized too late and intensive care treatment is initiated," says Professor Dr. Markus A. Weigand, Medical Director of the Anaesthesiological University Clinic in Heidelberg. "In addition, there are only a few medications available so far to stop the inflammation until the pathogen is identified and the appropriate antibiotic has been found."

Timely treatment with the right antibiotics

According to the Medical University of Innsbruck, timely treatment with the right antibiotics is the basis of successful sepsis therapy. For this reason, the intensive care physician sends blood, urine or tissue samples to the microbiological laboratory as soon as possible if sepsis is suspected. Molecular biological rapid tests have recently become available for faster diagnostics. In severe cases or later diagnosis, sepsis leads to organ failure and intensive medical treatment is necessary. The most frequently affected organ is the kidney.

The majority of those affected suffer acute kidney damage

"70 percent of patients with sepsis suffer acute kidney damage," explains intensive care doctor Michael Joannidis. "We assume that kidney inflammation and a deficiency with oxygen (hypoxia) play important roles in this." A new therapy should target these two processes. The results were published in a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Innsbruck medical doctor Michael Joannidis was instrumental in this publication as a member of the steering committee and national study coordinator. Current research at the Medical University of Innsbruck in this area is intended to provide intensive care patients with better treatments in the future and to save further stress through kidney replacement therapy.

The study shows that the enzyme "alkaline phosphatase" with its dual mechanism of action could be a promising candidate for therapy. "Although intravenous administration of recombinant alkaline phosphatase over three days could not, as expected, improve kidney function in the first few weeks, but after 28 days," said Joannidis. In addition, there was an unexpectedly clear effect on patient survival after one or three months.

Mortality in these seriously ill intensive care patients with sepsis and kidney damage decreased by over 40 percent. In autumn 2019, the study will start in phase III, in which it is now being examined in the USA and Europe whether the effectiveness and the safety can be confirmed. According to the information, the main focus is now on the significant proof of effectiveness and the side effects and interactions with other drugs. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Video: Sepsis in Older Americans: Saving Lives through Early Recognition (July 2022).


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