Brain damage 'very common' after intensive care: Study
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Many people hospitalised in intensive care for conditions like a heart attack face lasting mental deficits similar to traumatic brain injury, US researchers said on Wednesday, urging families to push for minimal sedation.
The problem is "very common," with a condition known as delirium affecting about three-quarters of those treated in the ICU and subsequent brain damage enduring for at least a year in up to one in three of them, said the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Many of these patients are left in a "private nightmare of their own," since the medical community is largely unaware of the phenomenon, said senior author Wes Ely, professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
"What a dilemma we have in medicine, with this many people leaving our care with a form of brain injury, essentially, that was completely unsuspected by the average medical professional," Dr Ely told AFP.