Aug. 7 (UPI) -- About one in four sepsis patients who live through their hospitalization will continue to have higher levels of inflammation, a study says. This puts them at risk for an assortment of health problems, and even death.
The research was published on Wednesday in JAMA Network Open.
"Sepsis is the leading cause of death among hospitalized patients. Patients discharged from the hospital aren't out of the woods yet. Approximately 1 of every 3 sepsis survivors will die in the following year," Sachin Yende, a researcher at deputy chief of staff at the Veterans Affairs in Pittsburgh and study lead author, said in a news release.
Sepsis occurs when the body harms its own organs and tissues after responding to an infection. Almost all sepsis patients will suffer inflammation in their bloodstreams after only a few days of hospitalization.
To investigate how this inflammation progresses, the researchers looked at 483 living patients who were admitted in one of 12 hospitals around the United States from 2012 to 2017. These patients had blood samples collected, and received phone calls and home visits on the third, sixth and 12th months of the study.
About a quarter of the patients had high levels of inflammation, while half had elevated levels of immunosuppressive biomarkers about a year after being discharged. The threat of heart disease, stroke and death drove up readmission rates for these patients versus those without elevated biomarker and inflammation levels.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.5 million people develop sepsis and 250,000 die from the disease each year.
"The participants with increased inflammation had levels that were twice as high as levels in healthy individuals and that elevated inflammation persisted long after hospital discharge," said Derek Angus, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh and study senior author. "Sepsis increases risk of heart disease and stroke, and, for the first time, we've linked these adverse outcomes to persistent inflammation."