Natural History of Delirium

Delirium is usually of acute onset and transient duration. Delirium often resolves a few days to a few weeks after etio-logic insults are corrected. In some patients, however, delirium may persist. When chronic, delirium may result in permanent cognitive deficits, meeting the criteria for dementia (Fong et al., 2009). Hastening the progression of an existing dementia might explain this clinical observation. Delirium is persistent at hospital discharge in almost one third of patients, with almost as many still having symptoms and signs of delirium 6 months after discharge (McAvay et al., 2006; McCusker et al., 2003).

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