Sepsis patients face an increased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke after leaving hospital, according to a study.

The week after being discharged is the most dangerous but they are at greater risk than the general population and others leaving hospital for an entire month, researchers found.

Sepsis triggers the immune system to cause inflammation in the body, which can rupture fatty deposits in arteries and block them, causing a stroke or heart attack.

The study looked at 42,300 sepsis patients, of whom 830 had a stroke and 185 had a heart attack within 180 days of discharge from hospital. In total, 51 % of heart attacks and strokes happened within 35 days of leaving the hospital.

The study found the sepsis patients were 15 % more likely than the general population and 16 % more likely than other hospital patients to have a stroke or heart attack in the month after discharge.

The Daily Mail has been campaigning to raise awareness of sepsis, called the ‘silent killer’ because it is difficult to diagnose until it has spread through the body. It is the leading cause of avoidable deaths in Britain, killing at least 44,000 people every year.

The study, led by Dr Chien-Chang Lee from the National Taiwan University Hospital, was published in the Canadian Medical Research Journal.

Dr Ron Daniels, of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: ‘Approximately 40 of survivors of sepsis have one or more of physical, cognitive or psychological after-effects.

‘These important data show that these complications of sepsis placed sufferers at greater risk of heart attack and stroke than the general population and, whilst the effect when compared with people admitted to hospital for other conditions is not so marked, it remains significant.’