July 16, 2020

Background: The cornerstones of sepsis management continues to include early identification, early appropriate empiric antibiotics, definitive source control, and vasopressors to support end organ perfusion. There have been multiple studies looking at the co-administration of hydrocortisone, ascorbic acid, and thiamine (known as HAT therapy or the metabolic cocktail) to help reduce mortality and reverse shock. Despite the original Marik study showing an association between HAT therapy and a 31.9% overall decrease in mortality and a 3-fold decrease in time to vasopressor discontinuation in patients presenting with severe sepsis and septic shock, the mortality benefit has not been reproduced in subsequent randomized clinical trials.  Studies focused specifically on the use of corticosteroids have demonstrated reduced time on vasopressors in patients in septic shock.  The bigger question is does vitamin C and thiamine add anything additional to help improve mortality (The ORANGES Trial)?

May 18, 2020

Background: Getting the basics right in all illness is vital. In sepsis, this means appropriate use of antibiotics, judicious fluid resuscitation, and early identification.  Vasopressor support is also essential in the sickest sepsis patients (i.e. septic shock). Should the metabolic cocktail (thiamine, vitamin C and hydrocrotisone) be part of that initial package? We’ve previously reviewed the key articles in this area: CITRIS-ALI, VITAMINS, and the original before and after Marik trial. Now we have our next RCT, the HYVCTTSSS trial. From a pathophysiologic standpoint, Vitamin C levels are thought to be low in critically ill patients with sepsis. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that prevents vascular endothelial damage and helps maintain microvascular integrity. Additionally, it is a cofactor for catecholamine synthesis which helps maintain vascular tone and cardiac output.  Glucocorticoids have been shown to reduce time to shock relief and length of ICU stay, but not mortality. The addition of thiamine can help promote oxalate decomposition, which reduces vitamin C metabolites from depositing and crystalizing in kidneys.  While these medications are cheap, the more important question is do they improve patient-oriented outcomes? The previous literature on whether this translates to patient oriented benefits has been mostly negative thus far.
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