Cognitive impairment in medical inpatients
People aged over 80 years is the most rapidly growing segment of the population in Sweden. This group is susceptible to multimorbidity, disability and cognitive impairment. Managing these issues will be essential in order to obtain a sustainable healthcare system in the near future.
To determine if increased acknowledgement of cognitive impairment could improve healthcare for elderly persons admitted to a general hospital
Study population: Two hundred patients at the wards of general internal medicine at Skåne university hospital in Malmö.
I. Cognitive impairment was prevalent in 73% of medical inpatients, the majority of which were undetected by healthcare professionals. Cognitive impairment was independently associated with a three-fold risk of one-year mortality.
II. A group of 99 patients received an intervention that focused on cognitive impairment. This group had fewer rehospitalisations after 12-months than the control group, receiving standard care. This effect was statistically significant for those patients who survived for 12-months, but not from an intention-to-treat perspective.
III. In total, 94 patients had undergone a cranial computed tomography. Of these, 36% had an abnormal medial temporal lobe atrophy (MTA). None of these had been reported originally. Of the patients with abnormal MTA, 93% had cognitive impairment, with a test profile indicating a possible Alzheimer symptomatology.
IV. An ADL (activities of daily living) measurement predicted mortality stronger than age, sex, body mass index, albumin, haemoglobin, kidney function and the Charlson comorbidity index. The ADL measurement entailed a substantial added value to these established risk factors.
V. Lower quality of life was associated with cognitive impairment, ADL impairment, depression and social factors, but not with physical comorbidity.
This thesis emphasises the need to acknowledge cognitive impairment in medical inpatients. The results suggest that increased acknowledgement of cognitive impairment could lead to fewer rehospitalisations, more accurate prognosis estimates and possibly better quality of life.
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