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Global sepsis incidence hits 48.9M, deaths at 11M

Elvira Manzano
05 Feb 2020

The global incident cases of sepsis were recorded at 48.9 million in 2017, with 11 million related deaths worldwide, according to the IHME* Sepsis study which analysed data from the comprehensive Global Burden of Disease 2017 study.

“These estimates were twice the figures we had previously assumed, likely because the study included data from low-and middle-income countries where sepsis incidence and mortality are considerably higher and for which data were previously underrepresented,” said co-author Professor Konrad Reinhart from Jena University Hospital in Jena, Germany and  president of the Global Sepsis Alliance at the recent CCR20 Meeting. “Sepsis incidence and deaths varied across the region, with the highest burden in sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.” [Lancet 2020;395:200-211]

Of note, the difference between current and previous estimates was particularly striking in children, where more than half of cases occurred in this population, many of them newborns, he added.

Data on the global incidence of sepsis and related mortality were limited prior to this analysis. Most studies were only restricted to patients admitted to the hospitals and excluded children. As sepsis is a syndrome caused by an underlying infection, it is not part of the standard Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study estimates. Dr Kristina Rudd from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US and her team sought to estimate the incidence of sepsis and mortality using data from 109 million individual death records spanning from 1990 to 2017.

In 1990, there were 60.2 million estimated cases of sepsis. This was down to 48.9 million in 2017, a reduction of 18.8 percent. Of all incident cases in 2017, 33.1 million occurred in those with an underlying infectious cause of health loss, 15.8 million in those with underlying injuries or noncommunicable disease. The incidence of age-standardized sepsis also dropped by 37 percent, so was mortality by 52.8 percent.

“We now have a new and robust evidence of the burden of sepsis worldwide,” Rudd said at CCR20. This finding has several key implications for health policy makers, clinicians, and researchers.  “First, the global burden of sepsis is larger than previously appreciated and requires urgent attention. Second, there is substantial variation in incidence and mortality according to Healthcare Access and Quality Index , with the highest burden in locations that are least equipped to prevent, identify, or treat sepsis. Third, more robust infection-prevention measures should be assessed and implemented in areas with the highest incidence of sepsis and among populations wherein sepsis will have the greatest impact, for example, neonates.”

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. “Our results highlight the need for greater prevention and treatment of sepsis, particularly in areas of the world with the lowest sociodemographic index,” said the authors.

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Most Read Articles
2 days ago
There appears to be no association between aortic pulse wave velocity, a measure of vascular stiffness, and migraine, as reported in a recent study.
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