Delirium increases risk of developing new dementia eight-fold in older patients
Older people who have experienced episodes of delirium are significantly more likely to develop dementia, according to new research. The study is published in the journal Brain today.
When in hospital, older people sometimes become acutely confused and disorientated. This condition, known as delirium, affects at least 15 per cent of older people in hospitals and has long thought to be simply a temporary side effect of other illness (such as an infection, a reaction to a medication or an operation). However, the new research shows that episodes of delirium can have long term effects - increasing the future risk of dementia eight-fold.
Dr Daniel Davis, lead author of the paper from the University of Cambridge, said: "This means that delirium, or the acute causes of delirium, could be a newly discovered cause of dementia. This is important, because although delirium is extremely common, less than a quarter of cases are actually diagnosed in hospitals."
Scientists at the University of Cambridge and the University of Eastern Finland recruited 553 people aged 85 and over, and assessed their memory and thinking over 10 years. Of the patients who had previously experienced at least one episode of delirium prior to the study, 77 per cent also had dementia. In comparison, only 33 per cent of the patients who had no previous history of delirium had dementia. They also recorded the number of episodes of delirium throughout the study.
In people without pre-existing dementia, experiencing delirium resulted in an eight-fold increase in the risk of dementia. In individuals with existing dementia, delirium was associated with an acceleration of dementia severity, loss of independence in physical functioning, and higher mortality.
Dr Davis added: "Worsening confusion and disorientation in older persons does not attract much attention among clinical staff and many believe that delirium is simply an inconvenient consequence of illness. However, this research suggests the possibility that delirium, or the problems giving rise to delirium, may be actually causing brain damage.
"Because some delirium is preventable, it is plausible that delirium prevention may lead to dementia prevention. We now urgently need to test if better delirium care can prevent dementia, or prevent further decline in patients who already have dementia."
The Wellcome Trust-funded study also found, for the first time, that there may be differences in the brains of people who have had delirium compared to those without delirium. Dementia is known to result from a several different pathological processes (e.g. accumulation of abnormal proteins, or blockages in blood vessels). However, this study found that when individuals had both delirium and dementia, these standard neuropathological markers were not enough to explain the dementia. This raises the important possibility that dementia occurring after delirium had alternative pathological processes causing the dementia.
Professor Clive Ballard, Director of Research at Alzheimer's Society, said: "Scientists have believed there could be a link between delirium and dementia for many years. This robust study adds weight to this knowledge. With hospitalisation thought to be a cause of delirium, it's vital that healthcare professionals recognise the potential long term impact of delirium and are aware that older people who experience episodes could be susceptible to developing dementia."
Dr Karin Neufeld, President-Elect of the American Delirium Society and Director of General Hospital Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital, commented: "Research on delirium has repeatedly highlighted the association between cognitive impairment, and dementia and the development of delirium in the hospital setting in elderly individuals.
"This important research suggests that preventing delirium might be an important way to decrease the onset and progression of dementia in some people. The implication is that we, as healthcare professionals, need to redouble our efforts to detect and prevent delirium in hospitalised patients."
More information: The paper 'Delirium is a strong risk factor for dementia in the oldest old: a population-based cohort study' will be published in the 09 August 2012 edition of Brain.
Journal reference: Brain
Provided by University of Cambridge
- Relief on the way for delirium patients May 27, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Delirium in older patients associated with greater risk of death, dementia and institutionalization Jul 27, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Study finds decrease in postoperative delirium in elderly patients Jan 19, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Study: delirium presentation predicts mortality Jul 06, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Sleep apnea puts patients at risk for delirium after surgery Mar 27, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Learning curve of Electromagnetism?
2 hours ago I'm taking a first year physics course and have been having a little trouble with the basics of newtons laws and forces and whatnot, though nothing...
thin glass in liquid
2 hours ago I have one question about optics because I start interested in it. If an object is placed a distance p from a thin glass lens (index of refraction...
How many joules expended for a push up?
5 hours ago Just wondering if any of you can do the calculation that well approximates the amount of joules expended by a push up.
force to keep the folding doors
5 hours ago Hello, I would like to ask you to calculate the force F, which needed to keep the folding doors in this position. I would like to know what is the...
Confusion regarding direction of kinetic friction on inclined plane.
6 hours ago *please help! * The formula for kinetic friction acting on a sliding body is μkN When the body is sliding with constant velocity down an...
12 hours ago Alright, so in Pathfinder (like Dungeons and Dragons) there's a spell that allows you to lift/move stuff within 25 ft with 5 pounds of force. A...
- More from Physics Forums - Classical Physics
More news stories
(Medical Xpress)—Working with lab mice models of multiple sclerosis (MS), UC Davis scientists have detected a novel molecular target for the design of drugs that could be safer and more effective than current FDA-approved ...
Alzheimer's disease & dementia 23 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
(HealthDay)—Older individuals with nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) seem to have a significantly reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to a study published online May 15 in Neurology.
Alzheimer's disease & dementia May 16, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
People who have skin cancer may be less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, according to new research published in the May 15, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The li ...
Alzheimer's disease & dementia May 15, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have helped identify many of the biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease that could potentially predict which patients will develop the disorder ...
Alzheimer's disease & dementia May 14, 2013 | 3 / 5 (1) | 0 |
A drug developed by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, known as J147, reverses memory deficits and slows Alzheimer's disease in aged mice following short-term treatment. The findings, ...
Alzheimer's disease & dementia May 13, 2013 | 4.2 / 5 (5) | 0 |
An increasing number of U.S. children are experiencing gastrointestinal issues that require interventions to resolve, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
The latest makeover to a massive psychiatric tome honored by some, reviled by others and even called the "Bible" of mental disorders is being released Saturday with a host of new changes.
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
A new case of the deadly coronavirus has been detected in Saudi Arabia where 15 people have already died after contracting it, the health ministry announced on Saturday on its Internet website.
3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Big names in medicine are set to give an upbeat assessment of the war on AIDS on Tuesday, 30 years after French researchers identified the virus that causes the disease.
13 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
For combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 'fear circuitry' in the brain never rests
Chronic trauma can inflict lasting damage to brain regions associated with fear and anxiety. Previous imaging studies of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, have shown that these brain regions can over-or ...
14 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
A ground-breaking advance in colonoscopy technology signals the future of colorectal care, according to research presented today at Digestive Disease Week(DDW). Additional research focuses on optimizing the minimal withdrawal ...
5 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0