Doctors say that sepsis progresses through a series of stages. There are usually three stages, which occur with sepsis. The first stage is the least severe and presents symptoms, such as a fever and increased heart rate. The next stage is more severe and presents symptoms, such as possible organ malfunction and difficulty breathing. The last, and most severe stage, of sepsis is septic shock. This includes all the symptoms of regular sepsis along with an extremely low and life-threatening blood pressure.