Of course, I am always – ahem – ahead of my time, but I just noted this study that came out very recently. It demonstrates that if you give Vitamin C (along with hydrocortisone and thiamine) for just over two days in patients admitted with sepsis (blood poisoning) the mortality rate falls from 40% to 8.5%. The mortality rate in low income countries is normally around 60%.
Now, this was a small study, but it seems robust. It represents an almost five-fold reduction in mortality, but I think it provides some pretty strong support for the benefits of vitamin C. The conclusions of the study, repeated below were that.
‘Our results suggest that the early use of intravenous vitamin C, together with corticosteroids and thiamine may prove to be effective in preventing progressive organ dysfunction including acute kidney injury and reducing the mortality of patients with severe sepsis and septic shock.’
Hydrocortisone, Vitamin C and Thiamine for the Treatment of Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock: A Retrospective Before-After Study
Paul E. Marik, MD, FCCM, FCCP; Vikramjit Khangoora, MD; Racquel Rivera, Pharm D; Michael H. Hooper, M.D., MSc; John Catravas, PhD, FAHA, FCCP
Chest. 2016. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2016.11.036
Background: The global burden of sepsis is estimated as 15 to 19 million cases annually with a mortality rate approaching 60% in low income countries.
Methods: In this retrospective before-after clinical study, we compared the outcome and clinical course of consecutive septic patients treated with intravenous vitamin C, hydrocortisone and thiamine during a 7-month period (treatment group) compared to a control group treated in our ICU during the preceding 7 months. The primary outcome was hospital survival. A propensity score was generated to adjust the primary outcome.
Findings: There were 47 patients in both treatment and control groups with no significant differences in baseline characteristics between the two groups. The hospital mortality was 8.5% (4 of 47) in the treatment group compared to 40.4% (19 of 47) in the control group (p < 0.001). The propensity adjusted odds of mortality in the patients treated with the vitamin C protocol was 0.13 (95% CI 0.04-0.48, p=002). The SOFA score decreased in all patients in the treatment group with none developing progressive organ failure. Vasopressors were weaned off all patients in the treatment group, a mean of 18.3 ± 9.8 hours after starting treatment with vitamin C protocol. The mean duration of vasopressor use was 54.9 ± 28.4 hours in the control group (p<0.001).
Conclusion: Our results suggest that the early use of intravenous vitamin C, together with corticosteroids and thiamine may prove to be effective in preventing progressive organ dysfunction including acute kidney injury and reducing the mortality of patients with severe sepsis and septic shock. Additional studies are required to confirm these preliminary findings.