JAMA logoAn individual with physical or mental illness can possibly suffer from delirium. A recently commenced research reveals elderly patients with delirium to suffer from heightened risk of death, dementia, and institution – alization, irrespective of age, co-existing illnesses or illness severity. It was ascertained that the research highlights the findings of a previous investigation.

Prior analyses were reviewed by the researchers to determine the link between delirium and long-term poor outcomes in elderly patients. Important factors that can possibly influence outcomes were not included in the investigations. 51 articles were seemingly examined by the scientists. High-quality studies with statistical control for age, sex, co-existing illness or illness severity, and baseline dementia were scrutinized during the primary analysis.

The investigators quoted, “Delirium is a syndrome of acutely altered mental status characterized by inattention and a fluctuating course. With occurrence rates of up to half of older patients postoperatively, and even higher in elderly patients admitted to intensive care units, delirium is the most common complication in hospitalized older people. Evidence suggests that delirium is associated with long-term poor outcome but delirium often occurs in individuals with more severe underlying disease.”

Joost Witlox, M.Sc., of the Medical Center Alkmaar, the Netherlands, and colleagues ascertained the primary analysis to highlight the correlation between delirium and heightened risk of death. But association was possibly not noted in controls after an average follow-up of 22.7 months. Patients with a past of delirium also seemed to be at an elevated risk of institutionalization and dementia. The findings may be beneficial in patient care. The researchers affirmed elder delirium patients to suffer with low rate of survival and high rates of institutionalization and dementia.

The researchers highlight, “The results of this meta-analysis provide evidence that delirium in elderly patients is associated with an increased risk, of death, institutionalization, and dementia, independent of age, sex, comorbid illness or illness severity, and presence of dementia at baseline. Moreover, our stratified models confirm that this association persists when excluding studies that included in-hospital deaths and patients residing in an institution at baseline.”

Investigations revealing precise mechanisms responsible for the long-term poor outcomes after delirium will be undertaken. Methods to thwart long term association with delirium will be determined in the near future.

The research is published in the July 28 issue of JAMA.