Twice as many people as previously believed are dying of sepsis worldwide, according to an analysis published today in The Lancet and announced at the Critical Care Reviews annual meeting in Belfast. Among them are a disproportionately high number of children in poor areas.
Led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Washington schools of medicine, the study revealed 48.9 million global cases of sepsis in 2017 and 11 million deaths, representing 1 in 5 deaths worldwide. Sepsis occurs when a person's organs cease to function properly as the result of an out-of-control immune response to infection. Even if sepsis doesn't kill its victims, it can create lifelong disabilities in survivors.
The large majority of sepsis cases -; 85% in 2017 -; occurred in low- or middle-income countries. The highest burden was found in sub-Saharan Africa, the South Pacific islands near Australia, and South, East and Southeast Asia. Sepsis incidence was higher among females than males. By age, the incidence of sepsis peaks in early childhood, with more than 40% of all cases occurring in children under 5.
I've worked in rural Uganda, and sepsis is what we saw every single day. Watching a baby die of a disease that could have been prevented with basic public health measures really sticks with you. I want to contribute to solving this tragedy, so I participate in research on sepsis. However, how can we know if we're making progress if we don't even know the size of the problem? If you look at any top 10 list of deaths globally, sepsis is not listed because it hasn't been counted." Kristina E. Rudd, M.D., M.P.H., lead author, assistant professor in Pitt's Department of Critical Care Medicine
For their analysis, Rudd and colleagues leveraged the Global Burden of Disease Study, a comprehensive epidemiological analysis coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The GBD 2017 Study currently reports on 282 primary causes of death not including sepsis, which is considered an intermediate cause of death. A primary cause of death is the underlying condition (e.g. cancer), which leads to the intermediate cause (sepsis) that ultimately results in death. Related Stories
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