Lower heart rates reduce risk of death among septic shock patients: 4 insights

Patients who are in septic shock have a better chance of survival if they have a lower heart rate, according to a study published in Critical Care Medicine.

The study, led by Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Medical Center researchers, included 1,554 patients who had been hospitalized with septic shock. Forty-four percent met the criteria for bradycardia, or a heart rate lower than 80 beats per minute, at some time during the treatment course.

Here are four insights:

1. Twenty-eight days post-discharge, the bradycardia patient group had a mortality rate of 21 percent, while patients who never experienced bradycardia had a mortality rate of 34 percent.

2. Patients with an average heart rate below 80 beats per minute reduced their chances of dying from septic shock by 13 percent.

3. In this study, lower heart rates in the patients were natural and nothing was administered to slow down their heart rates.

4. But the study suggests future research is necessary to ascertain whether medically induced lower heart rates in patients could help reduce septic shock deaths.

"Three out of 10 patients who suffer from septic shock end up dying in the hospital," said Sarah Beesley, MD, a pulmonary and critical care medicine specialist at Intermountain Medical Center. "Any research-based interventions we can offer that improves the outcomes of these patients will help reduce their chances of mortality."

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