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Statin Use May Ease Delirium in Critically Ill

Update Date: Jan 17, 2014 05:44 PM EST

Statin use may help prevent delirium in critically ill patients, according to a new study.

The study of 470 intensive care patients in UK reveals that continued use of statins might help prevent confusion and disorientation in critically ill patients who used cholesterol-lowering drugs before hospital admission.

"This is the first study using a validated delirium screening tool, the Confusion Assessment Method-ICU (CAM-ICU), to show that the administration of statins reduces delirium in these patients," lead author Valerie J Page MB ChB, of the Watford General Hospital in Watford, said in a news release. "This benefit may be mediated by a reduction in systemic inflammation."

After accounting for age, sex and illness severity, researchers linked administration of statins the previous evening to significantly lower risk of delirium and concomitant reduction in serum C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation, the following day.

After adjusting for CRP, researchers found that there was a relationship between statin use and a lower risk of delirium.

"Although the pathogenesis of delirium is not fully understood, these data are consistent with a neuro-inflammatory cause and suggest that the anti-inflammatory effects of statins may contribute to the effects of statin treatment on delirium," said Page. "Our study on statin use and the risk of delirium in critically ill subjects included extensive data on a large, broadly representative population of consecutive intensive care patients, increasing its strength."

"Our findings suggest that statin treatment should be continued to help prevent delirium in critically ill patients who received statins before being admitted," Page concluded. "The relationship between statin therapy and delirium and the mechanisms underlying this relationship are the subject of an ongoing randomized, placebo-controlled study in critically ill ventilated patients."

The findings are published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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