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Psychiatry and Medicine

Saczynski JS, Marcantonio ER, Quach L et al.

University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA.

 N Engl J Med 2012;367:30–9.

Editor’s note: Delirium is a common and frequent complication of surgical interventions. Up to three-quarters of patients develop delirium after elective cardiac surgery. Older age, lower educational level, and the presence of coexisting conditions are risk factors for postoperative cognitive decline. Delirium is also associated with cognitive decline in general patient populations. Delirium is associated with adverse outcomes after surgery, including an increased risk of postoperative death in hospital or after discharge, functional decline, and increased healthcare costs. It is unclear whether delirium affects the return of cognitive function to preoperative levels after cardiac surgery. This is clinically important, as cognitive impairment is associated with poor functional recovery after hospital discharge.

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