Study: Cognitive Loss Common After ICU Stay

Two-thirds of patients sick enough to land in a hospital intensive care unit come away from the experience with substantial mental deficits, a new study finds.

The new research, which quantifies a phenomenon long observed by critical-care physicians, found that three months after leaving the hospital, 4 in 10 patients continue to have cognitive problems on a par with those seen in cases of moderate traumatic brain injury. And more than a quarter experience a decline in mental function akin to that seen in patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease.

For 58% of patients who’ve experienced a stay in ICU, those intellectual deficits are still there a year after they have been released from the hospital.

The latest research published recently found that the sudden decline in mental function was as likely to affect young patients as it was those who were older. And it was no more likely in patients who were ill even before their hospitalization than it was in those who had been healthy.

In fact, only one factor appeared to predict which patients would sustain mental deficits after an ICU stay: the length of time the patient experienced delirium, a common occurrence among the hospitalized critically ill. The study tracked for a year 821 patients who landed in the ICU from a wide range of circumstances. Some were admitted following surgery; others came to intensive care after suffering a stroke, a sudden turn in an ongoing illness, or injury.

While suspicion has long fallen on the widespread use of powerful painkillers and sedatives in the ICU, they found few clear links between medications and patients who go to the ICU units.

REF Science Daily

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