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The Long-term Prognosis of Delirium

Jane McCusker, MD, DrPH, Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University; Head, Clinical Epidemiology and Community Studies, St. Mary's Hospital, Montreal, QC.

Nine published studies of the outcomes of delirium with at least six months of follow-up were reviewed. The results indicate that: 1) the symptoms of delirium are more persistent than previously thought; up to 15% of those without dementia and 49% of those with dementia continued to have core symptoms of delirium 12 months after the initial diagnosis; 2) a diagnosis of delirium is an independent predictor of increased mortality for up to three years after diagnosis and; 3) a diagnosis of delirium predicts continued poorer cognitive and physical functioning for up to 12 months after diagnosis.
Key words: delirium, prognosis, dementia, functioning, cognitive status.