hit tracker Combining AI with simple blood test could ‘save lives’ by detecting stealth sepsis faster, scientists discover – Newsmix.pics

Combining AI with simple blood test could ‘save lives’ by detecting stealth sepsis faster, scientists discover

Combining artificial intelligence (AI) with a simple blood test could help diagnose sepsis faster and “save lives”, a study has found.

Swedish scientists said the new method could also single out patients at the highest risk of severe complications from the serious infection. 

Sepsis symptoms to know

Sepsis is life-threatening and can be difficult to spot, accounting for about 50,000 deaths each year in the UK.

Dr Lisa Mellhammar, of Lund University in Sweden, said: “It’s vital that patients with suspected sepsis are identified before the onset of organ failure.

“Given the challenges associated with timely diagnosis and the fact that sepsis kills millions of people around the world every year, there is an urgent demand for an alternative approach.”

She added that a blood test, combined with a personalised risk model, “has the potential to save lives by providing more accurate sepsis diagnosis and determining who may go on to develop more severe clinical manifestations”.

The study, which will be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona, examined 1,364 blood samples of adults admitted to the hospital with suspected sepsis. 

Of the 1,073 patients with an infection, some 913 had sepsis.

The team then analysed proteins associated with sepsis to see if there was a pattern.

They created molecular signatures from their analysis, which were used to train a computer to predict who would go into septic shock.

Septic shock happens when your blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level after an infection

Patients in the study were classified as low, medium and high risk of going into septic shock, with the technology able to show how increasing risk was associated with a higher rate of death.

Dr Adam Linder, also of Lund University, said: “It’s difficult to predict who will get sepsis, who will recover, and who will have poor outcomes.

This technology is not yet street-ready, but it is a significant step in the right direction

Dr Ron DanielsSepsis Trust

“We urgently need better ways to understand sepsis at the molecular level so we can classify suspected sepsis patients according to the clinical manifestations of their illness and identify high-risk patients and develop more effective treatments.”

The experts also identified panels of proteins that predicted dysfunction in six organ types, including the heart, liver and kidneys.

Dr Ron Daniels, founder and joint chief executive of the charity UK Sepsis Trust, said: “It’s critically important that we speed the recognition of sepsis and identify sooner which patients need the most immediate attention, ensuring that we can save more lives whilst using antimicrobials more wisely.

“This research has huge potential to refine our understanding of sepsis and may in time help us to redesign clinical systems.

“As the authors acknowledge, sepsis is a complex syndrome, and this technology is not yet street-ready, but it is a significant step in the right direction.”

It comes as NHS England prepares to roll out the first phase of Martha’s Rule from next month.

The escalation process is designed to formalise access to a critical care team for a second opinion if a patient’s condition rapidly worsens and they or their family feels they are not getting the care needed.

Martha Mills, 13, died in 2021 after developing sepsis from a pancreatic injury she suffered after falling off her bike.

Her parents, Merope Mills and Paul Laity, raised concerns about their daughter’s health several times, but these were brushed aside.

At least 100 NHS trusts are expected to bring in Martha’s Rule, with the programme evaluated throughout this year and next.

What is sepsis?

From sweaty hands to a rash and even diarrhoeasepsis can present itself in various different ways.

This is because the condition can affect many different areas of the body, so there are many possible symptoms.

Sepsis happens when the body attacks itself in reaction to an infection, like a urinary tract infection (UTI) or pneumonia.

It can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

Globally, one-third of people who develop sepsis die, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

And many who do survive are left with life-changing effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue, organ dysfunction (organs don’t work properly), and amputations.

Like strokes or heart attacks, sepsis is a medical emergency that requires rapid diagnosis and treatment.

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