Septic Shock: A Central Role for Nitric Oxide

  • R. G. Kilbourn
Conference paper


Septic shock is the life-threatening complication of an overwhelming infection in which the immune system releases inflammatory mediators resulting in pathophysiological vasodilation, hematological abnormalities, and major organ dysfunction. Sepsis affects 300 000–500 000 patients annually in the United States (Parrillo 1989). The incidence of this illness increased by 139% between 1979 and 1987 (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1988). This increase is probably a reflection of a larger elderly population who are at greater risk for the development of sepsis syndrome. Despite improvements in intensive care management of critically ill patients, new antibiotics, and extensive research into the etiology of sepsis, mortality ranges between 20% and 55% (Dunn 1987; Young 1990). Mortality is observed to increase to 77%–90% when shock occurs (Parker and Parrillo 1983; Sprung et al. 1984).


Nitric Oxide Septic Shock Septic Shock Patient Nitric Oxide Synthesis Myocardial Depression 
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