Background Delirium is an important risk factor for subsequent dementia. However, the field lacks large studies with long-term follow-up of delirium in subjects initially free of dementia to clearly establish clinical trajectories.
Methods We undertook a retrospective cohort study of all patients over the age of 65 diagnosed with an episode of delirium who were initially dementia free at onset of delirium within National Health Service Greater Glasgow & Clyde between 1996 and 2020 using the Safe Haven database. We estimated the cumulative incidence of dementia accounting for the competing risk of death without a dementia diagnosis. We modelled the effects of age at delirium diagnosis, sex and socioeconomic deprivation on the cause-specific hazard of dementia via cox regression.
Results 12 949 patients with an incident episode of delirium were included and followed up for an average of 741 days. The estimated cumulative incidence of dementia was 31% by 5 years. The estimated cumulative incidence of the competing risk of death without dementia was 49.2% by 5 years. The cause-specific hazard of dementia was increased with higher levels of deprivation and also with advancing age from 65, plateauing and decreasing from age 90. There did not appear to be a relationship with sex.
Conclusions Our study reinforces the link between delirium and future dementia in a large cohort of patients. It highlights the importance of early recognition of delirium and prevention where possible.
Data availability statement
Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. The study data is available by application to West of Scotland Safe Haven.
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Contributors SPL, JWH, EJ, MS and JC formulated the research question and designed the study. SPL analysed the data. SPL and JWH drafted the manuscript. EJ, MS, FD and JC critically evaluated and revised the manuscript. SPL serves as guarantor for the study.
Funding SPL is funded by a Clinical Academic Fellowship from the Chief Scientist Office, Scotland (CAF/19/04). JC is supported by funding from the Medical Research Council (MR/S035753/1), the Wellcome Trust (104025/Z/14/Z), Versus Arthritis (22453) and the Inger and George M Simpson Donation.
Competing interests EJ has received honorariums from Biogen and General Electric Healthcare. MS has received an honorarium from General Electric Healthcare. JC attended a Glasgow masterclass in dermatology funded by Janssen.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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