CORONAVIRUS survivors are at risk of sepsis up to a year after being infected, experts have warned.
Campaigners are urging people who have battled the virus to know and recognise the early signs of the life-threatening reaction to infection.
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A UK Sepsis Trust (UKST) report has found one in five people who were treated for Covid-19 in hospital are at higher risk of being diagnosed with sepsis within a year of being discharged.
The charity has estimated 100,000 people are going to be discharged from hospital in the UK having had Covid-19.
This means about 20,000 people could be put at risk of life-threatening sepsis, the charity said, as it called for the Government to invest in an awareness campaign.
Sepsis happens when the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection, which can lead to organ failure and death.
The 6 red flag signs of sepsis
EXPERTS are warning coronavirus survivors to be aware of the six red-flag signs of sepsis.
The UK Sepsis Trust has made it easier to remember by breaking them down to make the word SEPSIS:
S – slurred speech or confusion
E – extreme pain in muscles or joints
P – passing no urine in a day
S – severe breathlessness
I – “it feels like I’m going to die”
S – skin that is mottled or discoloured.
Experts believe that Covid can badly damage the immune system so it doesn’t respond well to future infections – a state which can persist for several years.
A study in the journal Critical Care Medicine in 2015 highlighted that 20 per cent of people were readmitted to hospital within 12 months following an episode of sepsis.
Dr Ron Daniels, founder of the UK Sepsis Trust, said it is really important people who have survived Covid-19 – whether mildly at home or in hospital – should be aware of the symptoms.
He said there are six signs that spell out the word sepsis – S for slurred speech or confusion, E for extreme pain in muscles or joints, P for passing no urine in a day, S for severe breathlessness, I for “it feels like I’m going to die” and S for skin that is mottled or discoloured.
The charity has a campaign that encourages people to ask “could it be sepsis?” to make sure the condition is at the forefront of the mind of the medic treating them.
Working with the York Health Economics Consortium, the UK Sepsis Trust has estimated that unless these additional sepsis cases are diagnosed early, many people could die and it could cost the NHS up to £1 billion.
The organisations said that for every patient who is diagnosed early there is a cash saving to the NHS of more than £5,500, meaning 20,000 sepsis patients could cost more than £1 billion in patient care and benefits.
“These shocking data serve to remind us of the enormity of the threat of infectious disease to mankind,” Dr Daniels said.
“We urgently need all health professionals, as well as the general public, to be aware of the signs of sepsis and subsequently avoid adding to the magnitude of this issue.
“Failing to do so will apply even greater pressure on the NHS as they face traditional winter pressures and potentially a second wave of Covid-19.
“The UK Sepsis Trust is therefore asking the Government to invest in the ‘Blurred Lines’ awareness campaign – £1 million investment could save hundreds of lives and £200 million in treatment and benefits further down the line.”
Nick Hex, associate director for the NHS and public sector at the York Health Economics Consortium, said: “There is a substantial economic cost associated with sepsis, both in terms of direct costs to the health system and costs to the wider economy.
“Raising awareness of sepsis can lead to avoidance of some of these costs through earlier identification and treatment.”