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Protecting our brains: Tackling delirium
Date:11/17/2011

INDIANAPOLIS A new national plan of action provides a roadmap for improving the care of patients with delirium, a poorly understood and often unrecognized brain condition that affects approximately seven million hospitalized Americans each year.

"Delirium: A Strategic Plan to Bring an Ancient Disease into the 21st Century," written on behalf of the American Delirium Society, appears in the supplement to the Nov. 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Publication of the supplement, "Advancing Delirium Science: Systems, Mechanisms and Management" was supported by the John A. Hartford Foundation.

Delirium is a sudden alteration in mental status -- brain failure in a vulnerable individual, often an older adult with multiple health issues, caused by something else such as medications, urinary tract infection, lack of sleep, excessive light or noise or pain. In the United States, an estimated 80 percent of patients in intensive care units experience delirium during their hospital stay, however delirium is unrecognized in 60 percent of patients who experience it.

"Having delirium prolongs the length of a hospital stay, increases the risk of post-hospitalization transfer to a nursing home, doubles the risk of death, and may lead to permanent brain damage," said Regenstrief Institute investigator Malaz Boustani, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and director of the Healthy Aging Brain Center at Wishard Health Services. Dr. Boustani is an IU Center for Aging Research center scientist and president-elect of the American Delirium Society.

"Statistically having delirium is as serious as having a heart attack. Once delirium occurs, the same percentage of individuals die from it as die from a heart attack," said James Rudolph, M.D., president of the American Delirium Society.

Delirium, which occurs suddenly, is not the same as dementia, althou
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Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
caisen@iupui.edu
317-274-7722
Indiana University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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