What: Studies indicate that each year more than 2.5 million hospitalized older adults experience delirium, a state of acute mental confusion. Delirium is worrisome to patients and to their families and friends, and it is estimated that complications associated with the condition cost Medicare $6.9 billion annually. A special section in the newest issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences focuses on possible causes of delirium, ways to better predict patients’ risk for delirium, potential approaches to prevention and treatment, possible long-term effects of delirium and its association with dementia.
Summary of articles: This special section, edited by Sharon K. Inouye, M.D., Harvard Medical School, and Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), includes five articles on research supported by NIA and other public and private funders.
The researchers examined several areas that could help improve understanding of delirium, including biological and behavioral influences and the potential for biomarkers or imaging techniques to aid in identifying those at risk.
These papers report on research presented at a 2006 meeting sponsored by the NIA-funded Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and Hebrew SeniorLife. The meeting was supported by a grant from the Alzheimer’s Association.
The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the medical, social and behavioral issues of older people, including Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline. For information on cognitive issues and aging, please visit the NIA’s Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center at www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers, or call 1-800-438-4380. For more general information on research and aging, go to www.nia.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health – the nation’s medical research agency – includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.