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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Laboratory Methods to Aid in the Detection of Sepsis. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Sepsis and Bacterial Toxins

Sepsis occurs when toxins produced by the bacteria cause cells in the body to release cytokines. Cytokines then produce inflammation. Even though cytokines aid the immune system in fighting infection, they also can have detrimental side effects that may include vasoconstriction (restriction of blood flow) and hypercoagulation in capillaries that supply blood to organs.
This in turn can lead to a series of severe complications such as:
  • Continuous cycle of inflammation and coagulation
  • Weakening of the heart caused by the strain of increased pumping in an attempt to compensate for the decreased blood flow
  • Cardiovascular insufficiency
  • Tissue hypoxia
  • Multiple organ failure