Blood Poisoning: Timely treatment saves lives 2

Blood Poisoning: Timely treatment saves lives

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

Hardly any disease is underestimated as sepsis ("blood poisoning"). It can be fatal within hours and is one of the leading causes of death in the world. On the occasion of World Sepsis Day, healthcare professionals want to raise awareness about sepsis to promote early detection of this serious condition.

According to experts, about half a million people in Europe suffer from sepsis every year, with about 18,000 cases occurring in Austria each year, with 7,500 dying, according to a statement from the Innsbruck Medical University. "Blood poisoning" is still one of the leading causes of death worldwide. September 13 World Sepsis Day should help raise awareness about sepsis to help early detection of this serious illness.

Clipboard with sepsis and medication information
Sepsis is still one of the leading causes of death in the world. World sepsis day is planned to help raise awareness of sepsis to facilitate the early detection of this serious condition. (Image: Zerbor /

Particularly vulnerable groups

When infections in the body get out of control, it is called sepsis – falsely known as blood poisoning, according to Innsbruck University of Medicine. Older people are especially at risk, but also children under the age of one year 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 the infection. The causes may be, for example, wound and urinary tract infections, pneumonia, peritonitis, or influenza.

Experts explain that trying to fight infection leads to an overreaction of the body. Thus, the patient is less threatened by a bacterial attack than by the body's own reaction to this attack. "Host immune dysfunction is occurring," said Innsbruck Intensive Care Doctor Michael Joannidis, head of the Joint Institution for Internal Emergency and Intensive Care at the Innsbruck University of Medicine.

Time is the deciding factor

Once sepsis is present, timing is a key factor: To quickly identify high-risk patients with sepsis outside the ICU, a rapid SOSO score was introduced, based on three simple clinical criteria – respiratory rate of 22 / min or more, latent consciousness, and systolic Blood pressure less than 100 mm Hg – consists. 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 in the shortest possible time. About a fifth of patients do not survive an infection they did not control, according to Heidelberg University Hospital in an earlier communication. There are two main reasons for this: "Sepsis is often recognized too late and intensive care begins," says Professor Dr. Med. Markus A. Weigand, medical director of the Heidelberg University Anesthesiology Clinic. "In addition, there are only a few remedies available to curb inflammation until the pathogen is identified and an appropriate antibiotic is found."

Timely treatment with real antibiotics

According to the Innsbruck University of Medicine, timely treatment with the right antibiotics is the cornerstone of successful sepsis therapy. Therefore, the ICU sends as soon as possible suspected sepsis of blood or urine or tissue for examination to the microbiology laboratory. More recently, rapid molecular diagnostic tests are available for faster diagnostics. In more severe cases or later, the diagnosis of sepsis leads to organ failure and intensive treatment is required. The organ most commonly affected is the kidney.

Most patients suffer from acute kidney damage

"70 percent of patients with sepsis suffer from acute kidney damage," says intensive care physician Michael Joannidis. "We assume that kidney inflammation and lack of oxygen (hypoxia) play an important role." The new therapy should focus on these two processes. The results were published in a study in the journal American Medical Association.

Innsbruck Chief Medical Officer Michael Joannidis played a major role in this publication as a Board member and national study coordinator. Current research also at the Innsbruck University of Medicine in the field in the future will provide intensive care patients with better treatment and save on further stress through renal replacement therapy.

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

The death rate of these seriously ill patients with intensive care with sepsis and kidney damage decreased by more than 40 percent. In the fall of 2019, the study will begin Phase III, where it is now being conducted in the US and Europe to see if its efficacy and safety can be confirmed. According to the statements, the main focus now is on significant evidence of the effect and side effects as well as the interaction with other drugs. (AD)

Important note:
This article contains general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment alone. It cannot replace a doctor's visit.