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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 7:58 pm | Fair 59º

Your Health

Sepsis — The Deadliest Disease You Never Hear About

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(Cottage Health graphic)

Even though you may rarely hear about it, sepsis kills more people each year than breast cancer, prostate cancer and HIV/AIDs combined.

In fact, it is the most common cause of hospital deaths in the United States, ahead of both heart attack and stroke. More than 1 million cases of sepsis occur in the United States each year.

Cottage Health is a national leader in successfully treating sepsis.

“More than a decade ago, Cottage implemented a ‘Slay Sepsis Protocol’ that has dramatically improved survival rates to well above the national average,” said Dr. Jeffrey Fried, who practices and teaches critical care medicine at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

“At Cottage, over 80 percent of patients with septic shock survive, while the national average is approximately 64 percent.”

Former patient Anthony Aria of Santa Barbara was admitted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital after his severe pneumonia had progressed to sepsis.

“I knew something was wrong, I just felt sicker,” he recalled.

Early detection and quick action by the sepsis team helped Aria make a full recovery.

Sepsis does not arise on its own. Any type of infection that is anywhere in the body can cause sepsis. This includes infections in the lungs (such as pneumonia), urinary tract, skin, abdomen (such as appendicitis) or any other part of the body. Sepsis can occur even after a minor infection.

Common symptoms that an infection has progressed to sepsis include fever and chills, extreme weakness and dizziness, difficulty or rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, rash, excessive thirst and loss of appetite.

Anyone with these symptoms should go to the hospital Emergency Department immediately.

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection, which can lead to organ failure, tissue damage and death.

In severe cases, one or more organs fail. In the worst cases, blood pressure drops, the heart weakens and the patient spirals toward septic shock in which multiple organs can quickly fail and the patient can die.

Click here to learn more about sepsis symptoms and treatments and find out how to have the “S-Word Talk” with your family and friends.

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