Health

Nearly three-quarters of coronavirus patients in ICUs become delirious


Nearly three-quarters of coronavirus patients in ICUs become delirious – and those with confusion triggered by the virus face 10% higher risks of death

  • More than 73% of patients admitted to ICUs with coronavirus experience delirium, which lasts for about seven days
  • About 87% had hypoactive delirium, characterized by a reduction in physical movements, and 13% ad hyperactive delirium, characterized by motor agitation 
  • Coronavirus patients who experienced delirium were 10% more likely to die than those who didn’t
  • In the US, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The majority of Americans critically ill with the novel coronavirus become delirious, a new small study suggests.

Researchers found that almost three-quarters of US adults admitted to the ICU with the virus experience delirium, which continues for about one week. 

What’s more, coronavirus patients who experience delirium were 10 percent more likely to die than those who didn’t.

The team, from the Indiana University School of Medicine, said that the findings show evidence that doctors need to pay close attention to COVID-19 patients so they can quickly treat signs of delirium. 

More than 73% of patients admitted to ICUs with coronavirus experience delirium, which lasts for about seven days (above)

More than 73% of patients admitted to ICUs with coronavirus experience delirium, which lasts for about seven days (above)

About 87% had hypoactive delirium, characterized by a reduction in physical movements, and 13% ad hyperactive delirium, characterized by motor agitation (above)

About 87% had hypoactive delirium, characterized by a reduction in physical movements, and 13% ad hyperactive delirium, characterized by motor agitation (above)

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Coronavirus patients who experienced delirium were 10% more likely to die than those who didn't. Pictured: Registered nurse Sara King attends to a patient suffering from COVID-19 in the ICU at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California, May 12

Coronavirus patients who experienced delirium were 10% more likely to die than those who didn’t. Pictured: Registered nurse Sara King attends to a patient suffering from COVID-19 in the ICU at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California, May 12

For the study, published on pre-print site medRxiv.org, the team looked a patients admitted to two Level 1 trauma centers.

This included patients who were admitted to ICUs with a positive coronavirus test between March 1 and April 27. 

Results showed that delirium occurred within the first 14 days of ICU stay in 73.6 percent of patients.

Additionally, delirium or coma occurred in 76.4 percent of the 144 patients studied.

Researchers also found that invasive mechanical ventilation was linked to greater  odds of patients experiencing delirium. 

The median score on a scale (from four to seven) that measured delirium was six, which represents severe delirium.  

About 86.8 percent of patients with delirium had hypoactive delirium, which is characterized by a reduction in physical movements and a slowing of speech, which lasted about four days.

The other roughly 13 percent had hyperactive delirium, which is characterized by motor agitation and restlessness, which lasted less than one day.  

Additionally, more than one-quarter of patients with delirium died compared to about 16 percent of patients without delirium who died. 

‘Clinical attention to prevent and manage delirium and reduce delirium duration and severity is urgently needed for patients with COVID-19,’ the authors wrote. 

This is not the first report to find cases of delirium in coronavirus patients.

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A study from Wuhan, China – where the virus is believed to have originated – found that 36 percent of coronavirus patients had neurological symptoms such as strokes and headaches.

Another study from France found that 84 percent of patients experienced these symptoms, even after they left the hospital. 

In the US, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 105,000 deaths.



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