Sepsis in Elderly Linked to Lost Cognition, Functionality

These effects not seen in survivors of non-sepsis hospitalizations
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly patients who are hospitalized for severe sepsis are at increased risk of substantial new cognitive impairment and diminished functionality, according to a study in the Oct. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Theodore J. Iwashyna, M.D., of the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues drew data from the Health and Retirement Study (1998 to 2006) on older patients for whom baseline cognitive and functional assessments were available and who had been hospitalized for severe sepsis or for a non-sepsis ailment. The mean age at hospitalization was 76.9 years.

The researchers found that, among the patients who survived severe sepsis, moderate to severe cognitive impairment increased from 6.1 percent before hospitalization to 16.7 percent after. At the same time, sepsis was associated with more new functionality limitations: a mean of 1.57 new limitations among those with no limits before sepsis, and a mean of 1.50 new limitations among those with mild to moderate limitations prior to sepsis. No change in moderate to severe cognitive impairment and fewer new limitations were seen among survivors of non-sepsis hospitalizations.

"Severe sepsis in this older population was independently associated with substantial and persistent new cognitive impairment and functional disability among survivors. The magnitude of these new deficits was large, likely resulting in a pivotal downturn in patients ability to live independently," the authors write.

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