What are the risk factors for delirium?

Updated: Apr 25, 2019
  • Author: Kannayiram Alagiakrishnan, MD, MBBS, MPH, MHA; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Although numerous risk factors have been described, a recent study identified 5 important independent risk factors.

  • Use of physical restraints

  • Malnutrition

  • Use of a bladder catheter

  • Any iatrogenic event

  • Use of 3 or more medications

Dementia is one of the strongest most consistent risk factors. Underlying dementia is observed in 25-50% of patients. The presence of dementia increases the risk of delirium 2-3 times. Low educational level, which may be an indicator of low cognitive reserve, is associated with increased vulnerability to delirium.

Dysphoric mood and hopelessness are also risk factors for incident delirium.

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