Treatment Shows Promise for Delirium Prevention in Critically Ill

Patients receiving low-dose dexmedetomidine report no changes in sleep quality
Patients receiving low-dose dexmedetomidine report no changes in sleep quality

HealthDay News — Low-dose dexmedetomidine significantly reduces delirium in critically ill adults, according to a study published online March 2 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Yoanna Skrobik, MD, from McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues randomized 100 delirium-free, critically ill adults receiving sedatives to receive nocturnal intravenous dexmedetomidine (0.2mcg/kg/min) or placebo until discharge from the intensive care unit (ICU). Effect on delirium and sleep was assessed. 

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The researchers found that nocturnal dexmedetomidine was associated with a greater proportion of patients who remained delirium-free during the ICU stay (relative risk, 0.44; P=0.006). However, the average Leeds Sleep Evaluation Questionnaire score was similar between the 2 groups. The groups also had similar incidence of hypotension, bradycardia, or both.

"To our knowledge, this study, that suggests that the nocturnal administration of low-dose dexmedetomidine significantly reduces delirium without increasing adverse events, is the first to describe an effective pharmacologic delirium prevention intervention in critically ill adults," the authors write.

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