THE BIGGEST KILLER THAT NOBODY HAS HEARD OF!
Sepsis accounts for 44,000 deaths annually in the UK and costs the NHS an estimated £2.5 billion. That’s more deaths than bowel cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer put together. Patients with the most severe forms of sepsis are up to five times more likely to die than patients with a heart attack or stroke.
Sepsis was previously known as septicaemia or blood poisoning and is caused by the way the body responds to germs, such as bacteria, getting into your body. Sepsis can be caused by a huge variety of different bugs, most cases being caused by common bacteria which we all come into contact with every day without them making us ill. Sometimes, though, the body responds abnormally to these infections, and causes sepsis - whereby your body attacks its own organs and tissues. The infection may have started anywhere in a sufferer’s body, and may be only in one part of the body or it may be widespread.
Infections which can give rise to sepsis are common, and include lung infections (pneumonia), water infections, infections in wounds, bites or the joints, and problems like burst ulcers.
Sepsis can rapidly lead to shock, multiple organ failure and death - especially if not recognized early and treated promptly. The NHS deals with over 150,000 cases of severe sepsis (sepsis with associated organ dysfunction) annually, and many more patients with sepsis (a systemic inflammatory response to an infection) which has yet to deteriorate to severe sepsis.
In hospitals and long term care facilities, it’s one of the most common causes of patient deterioration; and in the community it accounts for 10-20% of adult medical emergencies. Though sepsis is common, it is poorly addressed: but the good news is that urgent basic care can make a real difference between survival and death. Patients and health workers need to work together to ensure lifesaving treatment is delivered as soon as possible.