Elderly patients with a history of sleep apnea may be more likely to experience postoperative delirium, according to a study published in the April issue of Anesthesiology.
Researchers initially sought a link between preexisting medical conditions and postoperative delirium, a common complication linked to long-term side effects and a heightened death rate in the elderly. After evaluating 106 patients over age 65 undergoing knee arthroplasty, researchers determined that obstructive sleep apnea was the only condition consistently present in patients experiencing delirium following the operation.
Of the 15 patients in the group with sleep apnea, a total of eight (53 percent) experienced postoperative delirium.
Delirium is a common and serious altered mental state that may develop due to a wide variety of medical conditions or drug side effects. It is characterized by the following:
Acute onset and fluctuating course
Disorganized thinking or a change in cognition
Altered level of consciousness.
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