Two Swedish studies about  long term effects after sepsis get contribution from Sepsisfonden

Lisa Mellhammar och Mikos Lipcsey

This is an area that for a long time has been close to unexplored, despite hundreds of thousands of Swedes living with complications of sepsis. Now Sepsisfonden chooses to support two research studies that will study the long-term effects of sepsis. In one of the studies, children are in focus which makes it unique in the world.

There are very few studies on the long-term effects of sepsis, both nationally and internationally. But in the fall of 2021 a German study was published where 116 000 sepsis survivors were studied, which showed that 3 out of 4 sepsis sufferers get different types of new medical, cognitive or psychological diagnosis within the first year after falling ill acutely. 3 out of 10 die within a year, among other things it is an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, the study shows.

– This shows that our focus on studies about the long-term effects of sepsis, in particular, is the right priority and we hope we in this way can contribute to better living conditions for sepsis survivors. If we can understand the effects sepsis has in a longer perspective, we can also learn how to prevent these effects in the acute state, says Adam Linder, chairman of Sepsisfondens Scientific Counsel.

Improve the quality of life of survivors

The most seriously ill sepsis patients, primarily those who develop septic shock, are cared for in the intensive care units (ICU). Almost a third of these patients with sepsis and septic shock will not survive after being admitted to ICU, and smaller studies show that the proportion who survive have a reduced quality of life. 

– We now want to perform a large national register based study where we study data on health and socioeconomic status before sepsis, the care process at the time of falling ill, and care contacts post sepsis as well as a follow-up on quality of life 3 months after sepsis. We will identify which patients have suffered from reduced quality of life and the factors associated with reduced quality of life after sepsis. In addition, we want to investigate if efforts by the health care and society can improve the quality of life after being cared for by ICU with sepsis, says Miklós Lipcsey, professor in anaesthesiology and intensive care at the University of Uppsala who leads one of the studies which now have received funding from Sepsisfonden. 

– We are delighted that Sepsisfonden, in its first announcement of a research grant for sepsis research choose to support the research of long-term effects in particular. This is an area that is much unexplored.

More focus on children

The long-term effects on children are not reported. This is in particular focus of the other study which now receives funds from Sepsisfonden. The study is led by Lisa Melhammar at the University of Lund and the project will identify patients who have had sepsis in childhood and follow how that has affected subsequent health and education. 

– Considering the long lifetime expectancy, children have a long time to be affected by long-term effects, which, in turn, can cause suffering both for the individual and relatives. Long term effects of sepsis in children might be reduced by interventions such as support measures in schools and optimised follow-up which is why it is important that they are surveyed, says Lisa Mellhammar.

– Contributing to sepsis survivors getting a better quality of life is in itself important. When it comes to children, it feels extra important, and we hope that our study can contribute to an increased understanding of the effects that sepsis can have on children.