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Intensive care quality of sleep improved by new drug, reports study
Date:12/12/2007

A new sedative drug has been shown to improve the sleep quality and comfort levels of intensive care patients, compared to the most commonly-used medication, according to research published today in the journal JAMA.

US and UK researchers compared the effects of the new drug dexmedetomidine with the commonly used sedative lorazepam, both of which reduce the pain and anxiety experienced by mechanically ventilated ICU patients and which help them to tolerate invasive procedures such as the insertion of catheters and feeding tubes.

While the routinely-administered lorazepam successfully lessens discomfort, it has also been associated with an increased risk of brain dysfunction, including coma and delirium, which prolong patients' time in hospital and raise the chance of death.

Now trials led by researchers at Vanderbilt University Schools of Medicine and Nursing in the US have shown that dexmedetomidine can provide better sedation and analgesia whilst at the same time reducing instances of coma and delirium.

The double-blind randomised controlled trials administered either dexmedetomidine or lorazepam for up to 120 hours to 106 volunteer adult mechanically ventilated ICU patients.

They found that around 30 per cent fewer patients in the dexmedetomidine group experienced coma, and that this group also experienced an average of four more coma-free and delirium-free days over study days one to 12 than those using lorazepam.

At the same time, dexmedetomidine proved to be a more effective sedative, with 80 per cent of the dexmedetomidine group sedated to the target level over the course of the trial, compared with 67% of the lorazepam group.

The study, carried out by researchers at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, builds on the pioneering work of Professor Mervyn Maze of Imperial College London, who discovered and patented the sedative and hypnotic properties of dexmedetomidine in 1986, whilst he was at S
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Contact: Laura Gallagher
l.gallagher@imperial.ac.uk
44-020-759-46702
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

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