Heart Patients Need Watch Out Sepsis

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New research says sepsis causes one in four deaths in people with heart failure.

Sepsis, sometimes called blood poisoning, occurs when the immune system goes into overdrive in response to an infection and starts attacking the body’s own cells, causing damage to vital organs.

It can take hold quickly and, without rapid treatment, can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “To most people, a person with heart failure dying from sepsis would seem like a tragic and unpredictable accident – but the shocking reality is that sepsis is the cause of death in a quarter of these people.”

Researchers have developed a “risk profile” to identify high risk patients. According to the release, the team found several distinct markers which flagged higher risk of death from sepsis specifically, rather than progressively worsening heart failure or sudden cardiac arrest.

Blood samples from high-risk patients contained lower levels of vitamin D and higher counts of platelets—cells which help blood clot.

Those at high risk were also older, more likely to have chronic lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and more likely to be male.

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