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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.4-7 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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