Delirium in neurological practice


  • O.Ye. Dubenko Kharkiv Medical Academy of the Postgraduate Education, Kharkiv, Ukraine, Ukraine
  • V.V. Nikonov Kharkiv Medical Academy of the Postgraduate Education, Kharkiv, Ukraine, Ukraine



delirium, dementia, acute stroke, cholinergic activity


Delirium is an acute, usually reversible, fluctuating impairment of the level of consciousness, attention, and cognitive activity resulted from impaired brain metabolism due to a wide range of various neurological and non-neurological diseases, the effects of drugs and other substances. The main manifestations of delirium are acute changes in consciousness, disturbance of attention, perception, often with the development of hallucinations, emotion, sleep-wake cycle, psychomotor and autonomic activity. Delirium is divided into hypoactive and hyperactive subtypes depending on the severity of psychomotor and emotional disturbances. Patients with acute stroke are also often susceptible to episodes of delirium at the risk factors such as age, pre-existing cognitive impairment, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and right hemispheric stroke. The pathophysiology of delirium has been less known, but there is evidence of the role of cholinergic deficiency. Delirium is a transient condition, but it needs treatment to prevent the development of complications since it is usually associated with poor functional outcomes, longer hospitalization and higher mortality. The strategy for the treatment of patients with delirium should be directed to early identification of its symptoms, elimination of modifiable risk factors and metabolic causes. In patients with severe symptoms of agitation and hallucinations, short-term prescription of antipsychotics for their relief is possible.


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