Study Finds Long-term Brain Risk after ICU Stay
November 23, 2013 08:53 AM
A recent study Long-Term Cognitive Impairment after Critical Illness reported in the October 3, 2013, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients in medical and surgical intensive care units (ICUs) are at high risk for prolonged and disabling cognitive impairment affecting multiple cognitive domains.
Nearly 80% of the long-stay ICU patients in the study showed cognitive problems a year or more after the ICU stay - as measured against scores typical for their age and education - and more than half exhibited Alzheimer’s or traumatic brain injury-like symptoms.
Risk for dementia continuing post-discharge increased based on the length of time a patient suffered from delirium while in the hospital; putting patients in drug-induced comas may also lengthen the delirium. The results did not differ based on the age of the patients. One of the study authors advises that once pain and comfort issues are addressed, deeper sedation should not be induced.