AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Medical-Records Study Links Dementia-Related Brain Changes to Hospital Stays For Critical Illness

Shrinkage of Brain Structures Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease Tied to Critical Illness and Infection

Researchers at Johns Hopkins report that a novel analysis of more than a thousand patients adds to evidence that hospitalization, critical illness and major infection may diminish brain structures that are most commonly affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Results of the study suggest — but do not prove — that critical illness and major infection can promote such brain structure changes and accelerate the process of cognitive decline, the researchers say.

Walker cautions that the findings may be limited due to undetected or misclassified billing codes that define diagnosis in the medical records; a lack of information about potentially relevant comorbidities such as delirium; and the “observational” nature of the study, which was not designed to — and cannot — determine or prove cause and effect.

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