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Longest and largest cohort study of delirium to date reinforces association while causation remains elusive
  1. Emma Cunningham
  1. Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast Faculty of Medicine Health and Life Sciences, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emma Cunningham, Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast Faculty of Medicine Health and Life Sciences, Belfast BT12 6BA, UK; Emma.Cunningham{at}qub.ac.uk

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The authors of this large cohort study show that one-third of older people with delirium in hospital will develop dementia within 5 years.

In the longest and largest cohort study of delirium patients to date Leighton et al1 report that one-third of people aged over 65 diagnosed with delirium in hospital will develop dementia, and another half will be dead, within 5 years.

Inherent in the use of pre-existing data to establish a cohort of participants without a diagnosis of dementia, especially as far back as 1996, is the risk of including people with undiagnosed dementia. It is likely that a sizeable proportion of older people diagnosed with delirium in hospital has undiagnosed dementia.2 This is supported by the fact that 9% were diagnosed with dementia in the first 6 months after their hospital-based delirium diagnosis, which implies a likely dementia at the time of their delirium.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors This is my own work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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