Hospitalized Sepsis Seniors More Likely To Get Alzheimer’s

Older patients hospitalized for severe sepsis are at higher risk for long-term cognitive impairment and physical limitations than those hospitalized for other reasons. 

The conclusion was reported following a study by ached by the Department of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University Medical Center and reported in 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.  Among surviving patients the researchers 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.

Overall, the study also showed that 60 percent of hospitalizations for severe sepsis were associated with worsened cognitive and physical function among surviving older adults. Severe sepsis also was associated with greater risk for the development of new functional limitations following hospitalization.

Among patients who had no limitations before sepsis, more than 40 percent developed trouble with walking. Nearly 1 in 5 developed new problems with shopping or preparing a meal. Patients often developed new problems with such basic things as bathing and toileting themselves both conditions that result in the need for long-term health care services according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) a national trade group.   

Patients in the study had a mean age of nearly 76.9 years. The cohort involved 1,194 individuals with 1,520 hospitalizations for severe sepsis drawn from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative survey of U.S. residents from 1998 to 2006, which collects information on the health, economic, and social factors influencing the health and well-being of Americans over age 50.

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