They said hundreds of thousands of people develop severe sepsis each year in the United States, and nearly 20,000 new cases per year of moderate to severe cognitive impairment in elderly people may be due to sepsis.
"Thus, an episode of severe sepsis, even when survived, may represent a sentinel event in the lives of patients and their families, resulting in new and often persistent disability, in some cases even resembling dementia," the researchers wrote.
"Future research to identify mechanisms leading from sepsis to cognitive impairment and functional disability -- and interventions to prevent or slow these accelerated declines -- is especially important now given the aging of the population," they concluded.
The study appears in the Oct. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The Society of Critical Care Medicine has more about sepsis.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, Oct. 26, 2010.
All rights reserved