healthcare worker
According to UK Sepsis Trust, sepsis affects thousands every year in the UK. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Poor socioeconomic conditions and underlying diseases put people at a higher risk of developing sepsis, a new study has claimed. The study conducted by researchers at the University of Manchester has highlighted how poor people are at much higher risk of dying.

They analysed 248,767 cases of non-Covid sepsis between January 2019 and June 2022 in England and found that people who come from deprived socioeconomic backgrounds are twice as likely to die from it in 30 days.

"This study shows socioeconomic deprivation, comorbidity, and learning disabilities are associated with an increased risk of developing non-Covid-related sepsis and 30-day mortality in England," reads an excerpt from the study published in the journal eClinicalMedicine.

People who have learning disabilities were at least three times more likely to be diagnosed with sepsis. The ones with liver disease have about three times greater risk. People with obesity, smokers and those with a "history of extensive antibiotic exposure" are also more likely to develop sepsis.

Patients with cancer, neurological disease, diabetes, and immunosuppressive conditions are also more likely to develop the condition as opposed to healthy individuals.

The study comes a month after a report by the NHS ombudsman warned that too many people are dying due to sepsis. The report blamed the failure of the healthcare system to learn from past mistakes.

"I've heard some harrowing stories about sepsis through our investigations, and it frustrates and saddens me that the same mistakes we highlighted 10 years ago are still occurring," said Rob Behrens, the parliamentary and health service ombudsman (PHSO).

"It is clear that lessons are not being learned. Losing a life through sepsis should not be an inevitability."

Sepsis is the term used to describe a rare but serious complication caused by an infection that causes the immune system to go into overdrive. This triggers swelling, inflammation, and blood clots.

Sepsis essentially occurs when an infection spreads through the body, and the measures usually taken by the immune system to contain an infection in one place happen all over the body; basically, the whole body becomes inflamed. Its symptoms include a rash, blotchy skin, and slurred speech.

If untreated, a patient's blood pressure will drop, cutting off blood supply to their vital organs and eventually resulting in death. This can happen in a matter of hours. According to the UK Sepsis Trust, 48,000 people die from sepsis every year in the UK. It suggests that an early diagnosis can prevent deaths.