Viewpoint: Treating sepsis ‘the same as heart attacks’

heart monitor

Professor Cheng-Hock Toh leads the Sepsis Research Group at the University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health.

“I welcome the new National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance, which recommends that sepsis should be treated with the same urgency as heart attacks, as this has been a major area of unmet need causing many unnecessary and untimely deaths.

As highlighted by NICE, there has not been uniform provision of quality care to patients with sepsis. Because sepsis can affect anyone regardless of age, health status and economic background, heightened vigilance and asking “Could this be sepsis?” is a step in the right direction.

There are few diseases with such a high chance of death. An admission with sepsis places the patient at a 6. The key action to saving lives is the early and prompt delivery of antibiotics. Figures show that there is an increase in mortality by 7.5% for every hour of delay in receiving antibiotics.

However, the guidance should also be considered amidst concerns over antimicrobial resistance and the pressure on clinicians for greater antibiotic stewardship. Prescribing the right antibiotic for the right infection can be difficult because the signs and symptoms in early bacterial sepsis can be similar to that from a viral infection, which does not respond to antibiotics. This would be helped by availability of a diagnostic test for sepsis that can provide real-time information for improved precision and personalisation of care.”

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