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Drug cocktail may help prevent sepsis shock, death

The mortality rate from sepsis can exceed 60 percent in low-income countries and presents a major health care challenge for providers.

By Amy Wallace
Drug cocktail may help prevent sepsis shock, death
sick ill patient elderly hands cancer hospital. Photo by Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

June 26 (UPI) -- In lower income countries, mortality rates from sepsis -- an overwhelming response to infection that leads to tissue damage, organ failure and death -- can exceed 60 percent and accounts for 400,000 deaths annually in the United States alone.

But researchers report in a new study, published in the June edition of CHEST, that a drug cocktail of vitamin C, corticosteroids and thiamine may help prevent the progressive organ failure caused by sepsis.

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"New therapeutic approaches to sepsis are desperately required," Dr. Paul E. Marik, chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School, said in a press release. "Our results suggest that early use of intravenous vitamin C, together with corticosteroids and thiamine may prove to be effective in preventing progressive organ dysfunction, including acute kidney injury, and reducing the mortality of patients with severe sepsis and septic shock."

Researchers examined patients treated with the metabolic resuscitation protocol of vitamin C, corticosteroids, and thiamine, and found those who received the cocktail improved more quickly and had much lower hospital death rates compared to the control group.

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Roughly 40 percent of sepsis patients died in the hospital in the control group, compared to just 9 percent in the group treated with the cocktail.

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The combination of vitamin C, hydrocortisone and thiamine work synergistically to reverse the pathophysiologic changes of sepsis, the researchers said.

"We did not test an expensive, proprietary designer molecule, but rather a combination of three cheap and readily available agents with a long safety record in clinical use since 1949," Marik said. "Due to the inherent safety of the combination of hydrocortisone, vitamin C, and thiamine, we believe that this treatment strategy can be adopted pending the results of further clinical trials. This inexpensive intervention has the potential to reduce the global mortality for sepsis."

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