Predictors of Acute Hemodynamic Decompensation in Early Sepsis: An Observational Study

Young Im Lee, Robert L. Smith, Yevgeniya Gartshteyn, Sophia Kwon, Erin J. Caraher, Anna Nolan


Background: The study of sepsis is hindered by its heterogeneous time course and evolution. A subgroup of patients with severe sepsis develops shock soon after the initiation of treatment while others present hypotensive. We sought to determine the incidence of hypotension after the initiation of treatment for sepsis, and characterize their clinical features and course.

Methods: A retrospective review of electronic medical record of all septic patients (n = 542) that met the definition of septic shock within 24 hours of admission (2011 - 2012) at an urban Veteran Affairs Hospital was performed. Subjects either had 1) initial normotension (INT) with hypotension developing within 24 hours or 2) initial hypotension (IH). Logistic regression was used to model associated factors of INT/IH.

Results: INT occurred in 62 patients (11%) with average initial blood pressure of 120/71 mm Hg and developed hypotension to 79/48 mm Hg. IH was identified in 52 patients (10%) with average presenting blood pressure of 81/46 mm Hg. INT showed evidence of increased sympathetic tone with significantly higher heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. INT patients were younger, more frequently on alpha-blockers, and more likely septic from pneumonia compared to IH patients. INT and IH patients had similar timing of antibiotic initiation, amount of 24-hour fluid resuscitation, vasopressor use, organ dysfunction and mortality at 28 days. Using alpha-blockers, being Caucasian, and having higher temperatures were independent predictors of INT.

Conclusion: INT is a distinctive presentation of septic shock characterized by rapid deterioration during early treatment. By further studying this subgroup, mediators of septic shock may be identified that clarify pathophysiology and provide timely targeted treatment.

J Clin Med Res. 2016;8(8):575-581



Sepsis; Septic shock; Vascular hypotension; Rehydration solutions; Fluid therapy; Adrenergic effects

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