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Doctors overlook vital signs in diagnosing delirium

Monday November 21, 2011 06:50:33 PM, IANS

Washington: Clinicians are overlooking vital signs in the blood that could help them more accurately diagnose patients with delirium, a condition tied to shorter lifespans.

"These biomarkers linked to delirium provide us with a window to the disease process," said study investigator Babar Ali Khan, assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

"With a clearer understanding of underlying mechanisms, we can do a better job at recognising and managing delirium and ultimately of developing therapies," added Khan, who led the study, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reports.

Delirium is a temporary state of confusion and fluctuating consciousness resulting from high fever, intoxication, shock, or other causes. It is also linked with decreased life span and higher health care costs.

More than 60 percent of patients with the condition are not being diagnosed, says the American Delirium Society, according to an Indiana University statement.

Nor there is any US Food and Drug Administration-approved drug therapy for its prevention or management. Study authors analysed relevant peer-reviewed studies of delirium since 2000.

They concluded that while proper use of a patient's chemical markers might help his or her doctors identify delirium and predict its course, these biological tools are not being used currently in routine clinical care.

"Future research on delirium should assess risk markers through serial blood draws, comparing the levels during the delirious episode and then follow up with levels after delirium resolution," Khan said. He estimates that 80 percent of critically ill patients in the US develop delirium.






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