Sepsis is a severe physiological dysfunction of the immune system. It occurs when your immune system has an exaggerated response that instigates a life-threatening series of inflammation throughout your body.
Sepsis accounted for 20% of all deaths worldwide in 2017. It is a leading cause of death for patients in hospitals. In many ways, the domino-like effect of the autonomic responses is a perfect storm. When your body detects an infection, it releases infection-fighting chemicals into the bloodstream. Dysfunction occurs when those chemicals trigger systemic inflammation that damages tissues and major organs.
The leading causes of sepsis in 2017 were respiratory and diarrheal infections. However, it may also be caused by fungal infections, viruses, non-communicable diseases, injuries, or even accidents. Sepsis escalates rapidly, and a patient needs immediate emergency care.
Facts about sepsis
- Sepsis kills 270,000 Americans every year —one death every two minutes.
- Sepsis is the most common killer of children worldwide, causing 3.4 million deaths each year.
- In the United States, someone is diagnosed with sepsis every 20 seconds.
- The risk of dying from sepsis increases by as much as 8 percent every hour treatment is delayed.
- In 2012, an average of 38 sepsis-related amputations was performed each day in U.S. hospitals.
- Sepsis is the No. 1 reason for hospital readmissions at a cost of more than $3.5 billion annually.
- Up to 50 percent of sepsis survivors are left with long-term physical and/or psychological effects.
Despite the seriousness of sepsis, many people are unaware of the condition.
Risk factors for sepsis
The obvious risk factor is having an infection. The infection may be viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic, and the infection may be mild, moderate, or severe. Even a mild infection may lead to sepsis. Other risk factors include:
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