The prevention of postoperative delirium could be vital in allowing cardiac patients to recover their cognitive ability, according to a new study.
Researchers claim that the common memory problems and inability to focus experienced by many older adults following cardiac surgery and which can turn into long term issues, are often caused by postoperative delirium.
The findings suggest that intervening prior to surgery to prevent delirium could prevent long-term memory side effects.
Researchers made the discovery when they followed 225 patients between the ages of 60 and 90 that had either coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or heart valve replacement surgery.
After a year, the scientists assessed patients for both delirium and cognitive impairment and found those that had delirium post-op were more likely to experience long-term cognitive impairment.
Dr Jane Saczynski, lead author of the study, commented: "With the aging of the patient population undergoing cardiac surgery and increases in survival after surgery, clinicians and patients are increasingly concerned with factors associated with quality of life, including cognitive status, as major outcomes of surgery."
Delirium has long been suspected of causing cognitive problems, and has been linked to negative outcomes in dementia patients when hospitalised.
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