Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018, George Institute for Global Health

The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Researchers at The George Institute for Global Health studied whether the use of as an additional treatment to - a severe life threatening infection - would improve survival.

In the results published in the New England Journal of Medicine they found steroids not only reduced the duration of septic shock, but also the time spent on life support therapy in . However, the use of steroids did not lead to fewer deaths overall compared to not receiving steroids.

Lead author Professor Bala Venkatesh, of The George Institute for Global Health, said: "Our results show there is still a lot to learn about septic shock which kills up to half of those affected in some parts of the world. There are undoubtedly many other contributors to survival which we don't yet understand.

"But, we have finally shown what part steroids play in the treatment of these patients. If we can reduce the time in spent in intensive care units that not only frees up space for other patients, it saves worldwide a huge amount of money."

Steroids have been used for over 50 years to treat septic shock - a life threatening illness that occurs when the body's response to infection leads to low blood pressure that reduces blood flow to vital organs and tissues such as the heart, brain, kidney and liver. Steroids are thought to improve the circulation by counteracting the severe inflammation seen in septic shock. However, there was uncertainty about the optimal dose and duration of steroids and concerns that steroids may result in adverse complications to patients.

In this international trial conducted in 3800 patients in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Denmark and Saudi Arabia, researchers showed that while the use of steroids did not reduce death rates, steroids led to a more rapid resolution of shock, were taken off mechanical ventilation earlier, received less blood transfusions and were discharged from intensive care earlier than those patients who did not receive steroids.

The trial will add high-quality evidence about the safe and effective use of steroids for patients with septic shock.

Co-author Professor John Myburgh, of The George Institute for Global Health, said: "Anyone can get sepsis, young, old, fit and healthy. It does not discriminate. Those that survive can be left with substantial injuries such as amputated limbs, and .

"It is essential that we raise awareness of this disease so people can get treatment more quickly, but we will also need to find better and more effective care for those who go into septic shock."

Explore further: Steroids prescribed in the ICU linked to delirium

Related Stories

Steroids prescribed in the ICU linked to delirium

May 27, 2014
New Johns Hopkins research suggests that critically ill patients receiving steroids in a hospital's intensive care unit (ICU) are significantly more likely to develop delirium. Results of their research, they say, suggest ...

Diabetes insipidus can occur after stopping vasopressin

September 23, 2017
(HealthDay)—Although rare, diabetes insipidus (DI) can occur following discontinuation of vasopressin infusion for septic shock, according to a case study published online Sept. 11 in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy & ...

Septic shock patients have better outcomes when their heart rates are lower, study finds

October 4, 2016
Researchers at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, along with researchers from four other centers, including Harvard Medical School, have found that patients with a lower heart rate who are in septic shock have ...

Machine learning may help in early identification of severe sepsis

May 24, 2017
A machine-learning algorithm has the capability to identify hospitalized patients at risk for severe sepsis and septic shock using data from electronic health records (EHRs), according to a study presented at the 2017 American ...

Study compares treatments to improve kidney outcomes for patients with septic shock

August 2, 2016
Early use of vasopressin to treat septic shock did not improve the number of kidney failure-free days compared with norepinephrine, according to a study appearing in the August 2 issue of JAMA.

Pitt leads sepsis care guidance in preparation for nationwide hospital requirements

August 18, 2015
As hospitals nationwide brace for rigorous mandates for care of septic patients that will be adopted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in October, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine review unveils ...

Recommended for you

Lung-on-a-chip simulates pulmonary fibrosis

May 25, 2018
Developing new medicines to treat pulmonary fibrosis, one of the most common and serious forms of lung disease, is not easy.

Reconstructing Zika's spread

May 24, 2018
The urgent threat from Zika virus, which dominated news headlines in the spring and summer of 2016, has passed for now. But research into how Zika and other mosquito-borne infections spread and cause epidemics is still very ...

Molecular network boosts drug resistance and virulence in hospital-acquired bacterium

May 24, 2018
In response to antibiotics, a gene regulation network found in the bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii acts to boost both virulence and antibiotic resistance. Edward Geisinger of Tufts University School of Medicine and colleagues ...

Tick bite protection: New CDC study adds to the promise of permethrin-treated clothing

May 24, 2018
The case for permethrin-treated clothing to prevent tick bites keeps getting stronger.

Past use of disinfectants and PPE for Ebola could inform future outbreaks

May 24, 2018
Data from the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak at two Sierra Leone facilities reveal daily usage rates for disinfectant and personal protective equipment, informing future outbreaks, according to a study published May 24, 2018 in ...

Early lactate measurements appear to improve results for septic patients

May 24, 2018
On October 1, 2015, the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a bundle of recommendations defining optimal treatment of patients suffering from sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.