At least seven million hospitalized Americans suffer from delirium each year, however the condition goes unrecognized in more than 60 percent of patients. Even if diagnosed, there is no effective way to treat the condition, which is a growing concern to medical professionals
Delirium is a state of confusion in which the individual has undergone a sudden alteration of mental status. Delirium is not dementia, but individuals with dementia are more susceptible to developing delirium during hospitalization than individuals without dementia.
Many drugs frequently prescribed to older adults for a variety of common medical conditions including allergies, hypertension, asthma and cardiovascular disease appear to negatively affect the aging brain causing delirium.
"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 increases the vulnerability to Alzheimer's disease. We as a scientific community need to commit our research effort to protect the brains of older adults from the burden of delirium and set a goal of reducing the delirium burden by half within the next two decades," said Dr. Malaz Boustani, Regenstrief Institute investigator and IU School of Medicine associate professor of medicine.
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