Critical illness may not end your vows, even after you think you have recovered. According to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one often overlooked issue is the cognitive deficiencies that can arise after hospitalization.
Those plagued by critical illness, even those that are unrelated to the brain, often suffer from cognitive issues similar to those experienced by people with traumatic brain injuries or Alzheimer’s disease that can last for days, weeks, months or longer, the researchers, from Vanderbilt University, found.
As per researchers, the cognitive issues stem from a form of acute brain dysfunction known as delirium. Delirium is a common, but often overlooked, reaction to critical illnesses that causes rapid-onset confusion and disorientation and may lead to long-lasting cognitive problems.
The researchers looked at 821 patients who were admitted to the ICU with critical illnesses, such as respiratory failure or septic shock, and found that 74 percent developed delirium during their hospital stay.
The researchers administered cognition tests to these patients three months later, and found that of the people who developed delirium, 40 percent scored similar to patients with moderate traumatic brain injury and 26 percent scored similar to patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Many of these patients experienced impaired cognitive abilities for 12 months or longer.
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