Delirium and Dementia


The Telegraph publishes an article today relating to some research carried out in the US which links an initial episode of delirium at the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s with a more speedy development of the incidence of dementia.

“The cognitive rate of decline was found to be three times more rapid among those Alzheimer’s patients who had had an episode of delirium than among those who did not have such a setback,” according to lead author Dr Tamara Fong a neurologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, part of Harvard Medical School.

“In other words, the amount of decline you might expect to see in an Alzheimer’s patient over the course of 18 months would be accelerated to 12 months following an episode of delirium.”

Not being a medic, I’m sure the importance greater than my initial understanding of it especially if, as stated

“…up to 40 per cent of delirium episodes can be prevented, taking steps to avoid delirium could result in significant improvements,” said Dr Fong.

The article suggests that more focus on the prevention of deliriums would have an impact on the eventual progression of the Alzheimer’s in the same patients.

Hopefully, with all research, it leads to a greater understanding of the disease and it’s progression which is always positive.

The full paper published in Neurology journal.

3 thoughts on “Delirium and Dementia

  1. This is a really interesting piece. Having worked with service users with alzheimers disease I have seen the impact of the disease on themselves and also their friends and family. Any findings into this disease is very positive and hopefully it will make a huge difference to the lives of so many people.

  2. One of the psychiatrists in our hospital really focuses on this issue. I was able to go to a CME on the subject a couple of different times. In the American medical system it’s a wonder that MORE people don’t end up with delirium when they’re in the hospital…with the number of new medications they’re started and stopped on during a hospitalization, along with all the other things that can contribute to delirium in the hospital.

  3. K – it is quite interesting research. I hope it does lead to some positive effects.
    Amy – I am surprised at how common delirium is so I hope the research leads to some kinds of changes..

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