Brain damage `very common` after intensive care: Study
Washington: Many people hospitalized in intensive care for conditions like a heart attack face lasting mental deficits similar to traumatic brain injury, US researchers said Wednesday, urging families to push for minimal sedation.
The problem is "very common," with a condition known as delirium affecting about three-quarters of those treated in the ICU and subsequent brain damage enduring for at least a year in up to one in three of them, said the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Many of these patients are left in a "private nightmare of their own," since the medical community is largely unaware of the phenomenon, said senior author Wes Ely, professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
"What a dilemma we have in medicine, with this many people leaving our care with a form of brain injury, essentially, that was completely unsuspected by the average medical professional," Ely told AFP.
"We work so hard to help them survive, and we think that when they get off life support and they get out of shock that we have done our job and we can send them on their way," he said.
"These people may have survived, but they are leaving with an entirely new set of problems."
Their struggles were associated with the length of time the patients suffered from delirium, a confused mental state that commonly occurs in seriously ill patients.
Previous research has shown delirium may lead to brain atrophy by causing inflammation and killing neurons, though more study is needed to understand why and how it works.
Researchers also know that delirium is more likely to occur when higher amounts of drugs such as sedatives or painkillers are given to patients.
The study included 821 patients, of whom just six percent were believed to have some kind of cognitive impairment when entering the hospital.
The patients, ranging in age from 18 to 99 with an average age of 61, were rushed to intensive care for either a severe heart attack, respiratory failure or septic shock.
Delirium developed in 74 percent of patients while they were in the hospital and typically lasted about four days.
After a year, one in three patients scored similarly to people with traumatic brain injury on mental tests, while nearly one in four performed like people with Alzheimer's disease, regardless of their age.
The longer the period of delirium they had suffered in the hospital, the worse off they were mentally later on, according to the findings.
"What was really striking was that the 30- and 40-year-olds had just as many people in the traumatic brain injury range as the older people," said Ely.
He added that families with loved ones in the ICU should ask the doctors and nurses if they are monitoring for delirium.
"And can we have our mom as awake as possible? Keep her comfortable, treat her pain, but let's not have her receiving unneccessary amounts of these drugs," Ely said.
"We would rather have her awake than in a coma if we have the alternative."
Maggie Zellner, director of the Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation in New York, who was not involved with the study, described it as "significant."
“This study demonstrates that a range of conditions which reduce blood flow, oxygen, and other nutrients to the brain can lead to cognitive impairment," she said in an email to AFP.
"Any patient who has lived through intensive care should be offered psychological services following discharge."
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- DNA: Harmful chemicals found in Maggi, Nestle India still in denial mode
- CM Kejriwal shortlists 39 'unwanted' IAS officers in Delhi
- Rajasthan: Gujjars revive reservation agitation, block rail track
- DNA: Modi-led NDA govt's hits and misses in one year
- J Jayalalithaa sworn-in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
- Zee Media Exclusive interview with Congress leader Kamal Nath
- ISIS to buy first nuclear weapon from Pak?
- Mumbai: CCTV captures assailant with gun at Film City
- Dr Subhash Chandra Show: Aspiring for more than what you have!
- BJP now central pole of Indian politics: Arun Jaitley
- Mathura SSP receives death threat letter, message for PM Modi
- Maharashtra FDA sends Maggi noodles for lab testing
- See what can Maggi do to your health!
- Watch: Fast N Facts @ 7:30pm
- Delhi: Two killed in road accident in New Ashok Nagar
- IPL 2015, Qualifier 2: CSK vs RCB - As it happened...
- India to soon have its own space shuttle!
- PM Narendra Modi graces Digvijay Singh's son wedding reception
- Rahul Gandhi to pressurise govt to act on one-rank-one-pension issue
- Goa Board SSC Exam Results 2015 announced
- ISIS close to buying nuclear weapon from Pakistan?
- CBSE 12th Results 2015: CBSE Board Cbse.nic.in & cbseresults.nic class 12th XII board exam Results 2015 date announced
- Manohar Parrikar visits forward areas along LoC, reviews security situation
- There will be no delay in appointing CIC, CVC: Jitendra Singh
- Credibility of Prime Minister's Office restored by BJP, says Arun Jaitley
- ISIS justifies raping slave girls, says Michelle Obama is 'worth $40'
- CBSE Board 10th Results 2015: Cbse.nic.in & Cbseresults.nic class 10th X board exam results 2015 date announced
- Arvind Kejriwal to highlight AAP govt's 100 days work on Monday
- 'Unhappy' Celina Jaitley asks Sunny Leone to move out?
- BJP's plan for one-year celebration: 200 big rallies, 5,000 public meetings