16 June 2009

Research into delirium and cognitive decline in people with dementia

Delirium and cognitive decline
Dementia News (Alzheimer’s Australia): 11 June 2009
Older adults with dementia are more susceptible to delirium than older adults without dementia are, and delirium can be mistaken for an exacerbation of dementia. Delirium is an acute confusional state that develops over a few hours to days. People with delirium are agitated, disoriented, and fearful. They also experience global cognitive impairment, disturbances of attention, and reduced consciousness. Delirium is a serious condition with a high rate of mortality, but it is treatable. And, in many cases, delirium is preventable, such as delirium associated with surgery, infection, and injury.

A team of researchers, led by Dr Tamara Fong, from Harvard Medical School, examined the effect of delirium on the trajectory of cognitive function in a group of 408 people with Alzheimer’s disease. Of the 408 people, who were registered with the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, 336 did not develop delirium during the course of their illness, and the remaining 72 did.

Each person’s cognitive performance was measured over time by the Information–Memory–Concentration subset of the Blessed Dementia Rating Scale. Factors such as age, sex, education, family history of dementia, severity of dementia, and other medical conditions were taken into consideration during the analysis of the data.

Dr Fong and her team found that those people in the study who had developed delirium experienced cognitive decline three times as fast as those who had not.

Although further research is needed to determine whether prevention of delirium might delay or ameliorate cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease, these findings further emphasise the importance of prevention, rapid identification, and treatment of delirium.

Reference: Fong TG et al. (2009). Delirium accelerates cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 72:1570–1575.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Alzheimer's Australia NSW

Alzheimer's Australia NSW
Alzheimer's Australia NSW

Latest headlines from Library News

Library News

Total Pageviews