Former President Bill Clinton has been hospitalized after developing sepsis that was triggered by a urological infection.
Sepsis occurs when the body has an extreme response to an infection, and it can be life-threatening. Infections that can trigger sepsis most often start in the lung, urinary tract, skin or gastrointestinal tract. Without timely treatment, sepsis can quickly lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death, but an aide to the the 75-year-old said Thursday that Clinton’s sepsis was not acute.
After being admitted to UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif., on Tuesday with a non-COVID-related infection, Clinton appears to be “on the mend, in good spirits and is incredibly thankful to the doctors, nurses, and staff providing him with excellent care,” Clinton spokesman Angel Ureña tweeted.
Clinton’s doctors also issued a statement on his condition, saying he “had received IV antibiotics and fluids.” Two days later, his white blood cell count was trending down and he was “responding to antibiotics well,” they noted, adding that they had been in touch with his doctors in New York.
“He remains at the hospital for continuous monitoring,” Drs. Alpesh Amin and Lisa Bardack said. “We hope to have him go home soon.”
In some cases, sepsis can lead to a potentially deadly condition known as septic shock, defined by dangerously low blood pressure and the inability to adequately fill organs with blood and deliver critical oxygen to tissues, said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
“Studies have shown that early recognition and intervention with intravenous fluids and broad spectrum intravenous antibiotics to treat sepsis can be lifesaving,” added Glatter, who isn’t involved in Clinton’s care.
“The fact that [former] President Clinton’s vital signs have improved and that his white blood count is now lower demonstrates that he is clinically improving,” Glatter stressed. “His prior history of coronary artery disease and prior coronary artery bypass grafting surgery is a factor that could potentially affect the speed of his recovery. Thus far, according to early media reports, he appears to be doing well and responding to fluids and antibiotics.”
Clinton had been traveling in California for an event related to his foundation right before he was hospitalized, The New York Times reported.
Roughly 1.7 million Americans develop sepsis every year and nearly 270,000 die as a result, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sepsis begins outside of the hospital in nearly 87 percent of cases.
This is not the first time health issues have landed Clinton in the hospital.
In 2010, he was taken to a New York hospital where doctors inserted two stents into his coronary artery, the Times reported. In 2004, Clinton, who has a family history of heart disease, had quadruple coronary bypass surgery at a New York hospital. The open-heart procedure, which took four hours, came three days after tests prompted by chest pains and shortness of breath revealed he had life-threatening heart disease. Clinton also has a history of skin cancers, cysts, allergies and some hearing problems, the Times reported.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on sepsis.