About one in eight Alzheimer's patients with severe confusion has a major complication wtihin a year of getting out of the hospital, in a new study.
Those complications, accordaing to the researchers, include mental decline, being put in a nursing home and even death.
The study, however, cannot say whether the combination of delirium and a hospital stay caused those outcomes - just that together, they're a risk factor.
Delirium - a sudden change in a person's state of mind that results in severe confusion - can be a result of several complications, including illness, a stroke or brain injury, a reaction to a medication or drug addiction.
Dr. Tamara Fong, the study's lead author from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told Reuters Health in an email that delirium can complicate hospital stays for Alzheimer's patients and make their health decline faster.
"We found that while hospitalization alone resulted in poor outcomes for patients with (Alzheimer's disease) ...the combination of hospitalization and delirium resulted in an even greater risk for developing a poor outcome," wrote Fong.
For the study, researchers combined information from patients at the Massachusetts Alzheimer's Disease Research Center between 1991 and 2006 with information from the federal government to see what happened within the year following their hospital stay.