What is the mortality and morbidity associated with delirium, dementia, and amnesia?

Updated: Sep 19, 2018
  • Author: Richard D Shin, MD; Chief Editor: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP  more...
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Some causes of delirium (eg, delirium tremens, severe hypoglycemia, CNS infection, heatstroke, thyroid storm) may be fatal or result in severe morbidity if unrecognized and untreated. With some exceptions (such as overdose with tricyclic antidepressants), drug intoxications generally resolve fully with supportive care alone. Failure to provide thiamine when administering glucose may rarely lead to acute Wernicke syndrome (ataxia, confusion, oculomotor palsies in the setting of malnutrition). If unrecognized, Wernicke syndrome may also result in chronic dementia.

Certain withdrawal syndromes can present with delirium (eg, alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates and naloxone-induced acute opiate withdrawal). Some of these withdrawal states can be fatal if if not aggressively treated.

Patients with primary dementia have a significantly reduced life expectancy, depending on the cause of the dementia and its severity and rapidity of progression. [3]

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