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Editorial
November 23/30, 2011

Is Severe Sepsis Associated With New-Onset Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, and Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle (Dr Goss); and Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Dr Carson).

JAMA. 2011;306(20):2264-2266. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1730

Severe sepsis is a major health problem in the United States and around the world, with hospital mortality rates ranging from 18% to 50%.1,2 Patients with severe sepsis are defined as a subset of patients with sepsis who have acute organ dysfunction in the setting of a systemic inflammatory response due to an infection.3 Severe sepsis has an estimated incidence between 50 and 300 cases per 100 000 individuals annually, depending on the study.47 The prevalence of severe sepsis increases with age and with the number of comorbidities (eg, liver disease and diabetes).8,9 Arrhythmias are common in the intensive care unit, occurring in 12% of all patients (with supraventricular arrhythmias occurring in 8% of all patients).10 Arrhythmias are more likely to occur in older patients and those with severe sepsis or septic shock.

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