Most deaths from severe falciparum malaria occur within 24 hours of presentation to hospital. Intravenous (i.v.) artesunate is the first-line treatment for severe falciparum malaria, but its efficacy may be compromised by delayed parasitological responses. In patients with severe malaria the life-saving benefit of the artemisinin derivatives is their ability to clear circulating parasites rapidly, before they can sequester and obstruct the microcirculation.
Impaired microvascular perfusion is central to the development of coma and lactic acidosis in severe falciparum malaria. Refractory hypotension is rare on admission but develops frequently in fatal cases. We assessed cardiac function and volume status in severe falciparum malaria and its prognostic significance.