Sepsis Health Center

Sepsis is a serious medical condition caused by an overwhelming immune response to infection. Immune chemicals released into the blood to combat the infection trigger widespread inflammation, which leads to blood clots and leaky vessels. This results in impaired blood flow, which damages the body’s organs by depriving them of nutrients and oxygen.

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. Once this happens, multiple organs—lungs, kidneys, liver—may quickly fail and the patient can die.

Sepsis is a major challenge in the intensive care unit, where it’s one of the leading causes of death. It arises unpredictably and can progress rapidly.

Review Date: 
April 19, 2012
Last Updated:
June 28, 2013