As has been reported, Christopher Reeve passed away yesterday of complications from pressure sores:
Reeve went into cardiac arrest Saturday while at his home in Pound Ridge, New York, then fell into a coma and died Sunday at a hospital surrounded by his family. . .
. . . In the last week, Reeve had developed a serious systemic infection from a pressure wound, a common complication for people living with paralysis. He was hospitalized Saturday.
Pressure sores, or pressure ulcers, are areas of skin breakdown when soft tissue is compressed against a bony prominence for an extended period of time. Immobility, such as spinal cord injury, places one at significantly higher risk. Estimates of nursing home residents place the prevalence at around 3 to 12 percent.
Infection is the most common complication from pressure ulcers, with studies showing 4 to 6 percent of nursing home residents developing such infection. Once infection reaches the blood, as it did on Mr. Reeves’ case, mortality is high – over 50 percent according to one small study.
A serious systemic infection, or sepsis, can markedly decrease perfusion to vital organs, including the heart – increasing the risk of a heart attack.