1. ITV Report

What is sepsis and how can you spot the symptoms?

Every 3.5 seconds someone in the world dies of sepsis - a form of blood poisoning which kills three times more people than breast cancer per year. But what is it, and how can you spot the symptoms?

  • Sepsis is when the body starts to fight an infection, it can trigger the immune system to go into overdrive, damaging the body's own tissues and organs.
  • Untreated, sepsis leads to multiple organ failure and death.
  • Symptoms include a rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, a change in behaviour (confusion, drowsiness or slurring words - patients can appear drunk), hypothermia, diarrhoea, changes in skin colour, sore throats and flu-like symptoms.
  • If diagnosed and treated in the first hour the patient has more than an 80% survival rate.
  • In the UK, it is estimated that we see 102,000 cases of severe sepsis every year, with a staggering 37,000 deaths. In comparison, breast cancer claims around 12,000 lives each year.
  • Sepsis is one of the biggest direct causes of death in pregnancy in the UK.
  • It consumes over a third of our most expensive hospital beds in Intensive Care and costs the NHS around £2.5 billion a year.
  • Every hour, about 1000 people die from sepsis worldwide.
  • A UK Sepsis Trust awareness poll in 2014 found that 40% of the public had heard the word sepsis but of those, only 40% knew it was a medical emergency.

Source: UK Sepsis Trust


More on this story