Is there a correlation between hospitalization and dementia? One study says yes

In a blog that we here at Freedom Home Care posted in early November, we addressed the common misconception that Alzheimer’s and dementia are interchangeable terms. Although it’s important to understand that dementia is merely a symptom of Alzheimer’s and other diseases associated with the brain, there is still much to learn about dementia.
In an article published on the Science Daily website, editors discussed research that revealed new findings on dementia and its correlation with hospitalization and how it affects the elderly.
The study assessed illnesses that required hospitalization and treatment in an intensive care unit and revealed that “infection or severe sepsis, neurological dysfunction, such as delirium, or acute dialysis are all independently associated with an increased risk of a subsequent diagnosis of dementia,” the Science Daily editors explained.
The Medicare patients involved in the study were at least 66 years of age, were treated in intensive care and were followed for three years using Medicare claims data. About 17percent of the 25,368 patients received diagnoses of dementia. Additionally, it was discovered that the older the patient, the more likely they were to be diagnosed with dementia following ICU hospitalization.
“The risk at 75 was more than double that of the 66 to 69 year olds,” the editors relayed. “And this rose to more than five times the risk for those age 85 and older. Women had a marginally higher risk than men and, as other studies have shown, race was also important to risk. Length of stay in ICU was not a factor nor was the need for mechanical ventilation.”
Overall, three common factors were identified: a critical illness with the presence of an infection which increased to a higher risk with more severe infection such as severe sepsis, having acute neurologic dysfunction during critical illness, including anoxic brain damage, encephalopathy, and transient mental disorders, and finally acute renal failure requiring dialysis.
Dr. Hannah Wunsch from Columbia University Medical Center and lead author of the study, made note, however, that because of increasing life spans and better hospital care, it is now easier for older people to survive a critical illness.
To learn more about the study or to read the article in its entirety, head here.