Patients treated in intensive care units across the globe are entering their medical care with no evidence of cognitive impairment but oftentimes leaving with deficits similar to those seen in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) or mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) that persists for at least a year.
The study, led by members of Vanderbilt's ICU Delirium and Cognitive Impairment Group, found that 74 percent of the 821 patients studied, all adults with respiratory failure, cardiogenic shock or septic shock, developed delirium while in the hospital, which the authors found is a predictor of a dementia-like brain disease even a year after discharge from the ICU.
At three months, 40 percent of patients in the study had global cognition scores similar to patients with moderate TBI, and 26 percent scored similar to patients with AD.
Deficits occurred in both older and younger patients, irrespective of whether they had coexisting illness, and persisted to 12 months, with 34 percent and 24 percent still having scores similar to TBI and AD patients, respectively.
The study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.