Focus on sepsis

11 July 2017

Shahrzad Kiavash was anesthetized for almost 2 weeks and stayed in the hospital for seven months. Both her lower legs were amputated. Sepsis almost cost her life. Today, Shahrzad Kiavash competes in triathlon – where swimming, cycling and running are all included in the same race.

“It was as if my body was in overdrive, I wanted to escape from myself, from my own body, as I couldn’t stand it, Shahrzad said.

The response from the healthcare staff was that Shahrzad had a panic attack and that she should be referred to the psychiatric emergency department. She chose to go home, where she completely collapsed.

Shahrzad’s story simultaneously represents a warning and hope. A warning of how quickly sepsis can strike and how difficult it is to diagnose. The hope is of survival.
Even today, the lack of awareness about sepsis is a major contributor to the death of every fifth person with sepsis in Sweden. Every year 40 000 people are affected in Sweden, of which as many as 8 000 die. This means that more people die of sepsis than of breast cancer, prostate cancer and intestinal cancer combined. Despite these facts, awareness about sepsis remains disturbingly low. A survey recently conducted by the Swedish Sepsis Foundation (Sepsisfondenshows that only 30 percent of the Swedish population knows what sepsis is.

In early July, Bactiguard and Sepsisfonden arranged a seminar about sepsis at Almedalen (an annual Swedish event gathering politicians, policy makers, NGOs and industry) to raise the level of awareness. On stage were: triathlete and sepsis survivor Shahrzad, Sweden’s foremost researcher in the field of sepsis Adam Linder, Ulrika Knutsson Communications Managers from Sepsisfonden and Nina Nilsson, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing at Bactiguard.

During the panel, Linder pointed out that sepsis is not just a single disease, but several different diseases that can be put under the sepsis umbrella. Sepsis, in broad terms, is when an infection becomes life threatening. What happens when sepsis occurs is that the immune system reacts to a local infection. It may be pneumonia or a urinary tract infection and in some of these cases the infection becomes too powerful and the immune system overreacts.
Reducing the risk of death from sepsis by providing knowledge and solutions to the healthcare sector is in line with the latest resolution adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2017, to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sepsis. WHO urges member states to intensify their efforts to prevent infections and thereby also reducing the spread of antibiotic resistance. The goals of the WHO resolution are: that healthcare professionals will recognize symptoms earlier and
treat sepsis quickly, to improve the reporting of cases and to promote research to develop better tools for diagnostics and treatment.

 “We are working closely with the Sepsis Foundation in Sweden and the Global Sepsis Alliance to raise awareness of this serious disease. As more people become aware of it, we save lives in the same way as our products, which reduce the risk of infections that can lead to sepsis,” says Nina Nilsson.

Bactiguard’s mission is to save lives. Our products aim to reduce the risk of infections through a coating that makes it more difficult for bacteria to adhere to and grow on medical devices, such as catheters.

Participants in the seminar:
Shahrzad Kiavash, Sepsis survivor and triathlete
Adam Linder, Researcher in the field of sepsis at Lund University and chief physician at Skåne University Hospital in Lund
Ulrika Knutsson, Communications Manager, Swedish Sepsis Foundation (Sepsisfonden)
Nina Nilsson, SVP Sales & Marketing, Bactiguard