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Sepsis deaths highest among seniors and increase with age

In 2019, more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S. involved sepsis, an extreme and potentially life-threatening complication of some infections.

Three-fourths of those deaths occurring among seniors.

Death certificates record sepsis as either the immediate or intermediate cause of death. But in 2019, nearly one-fifth of all such deaths among seniors listed sepsis as the underlying cause.

New data from the National Vital Statistics System finds seniors accounted for three-fourths of sepsis-related deaths, which trended upward by age.

Those deaths were five times higher among adults aged 85 and over than adults ages 65 to 74.

Males were harder hit than females, and death rates were worse in rural areas.

Sepsis-related deaths were highest among Black adults, followed by Asian, Hispanic and white adults.

Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.