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Older Patients Surviving Sepsis Infections Are Three Times More Likely To Develop Cognitive Problems

Posted Oct 27 2010 1:15pm

A study of nearly 1,200 older patients hospitalized for severe sepsis indicate that those who survive are at higher risk for long-term cognitive impairment and physical limitations than those hospitalized for other reasons. This conclusion was reached by a group of investigators nationwide, including Dylan M. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University Medical Center. The study is reported in the October 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sepsis is a condition in which the immune system goes into overdrive releasing chemicals into the blood to combat infection. Sepsis occurs in 1 percent to 2 percent of all hospitalizations in the United States. Sepsis often results after common problems such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections. Approximately 40 percent of those with severe sepsis die from the condition.

“In this patient population, we found that the odds of acquiring moderate to severe cognitive impairment were 3.3 times higher following an episode of sepsis than for other hospitalizations,” says Dr. Smith, who helped design the statistical analysis of the study.

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