Deficiency of Vitamin D Among Older Adults May Lead to Delirium

Decreased level of vitamin D is not only a danger for bone health but also a person’s brain functioning and development. Many health conditions can be caused by lower levels of vitamin D in older adults, including depression, schizophrenia and seasonal affective disorder.

One of the mental conditions known as delirium can also be caused by the deficiency of 25-hydroxy vitamin D serum in older adults, says a recent study published in the Frontiers of Psychiatry: Neuroepidemiology.

The researchers from the different universities of Greece, France, United Kingdome, and Belgium have conducted a case-controlled study to find out a link between the decreased level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) and delirium which is a mental state or an acute organic reaction that causes a disturbance in consciousness with reduced ability to focus, think, and shift attention. It attacks the thinking pattern (cognitive process) of a person that results in disturbed memory, poor language functioning, disturbed orientation, and the person often experiences hallucinations (a false perception of hearing voices), delusions (false but firm belief), and illusions.

The researchers collected data that was comprised of 60 patients with the delirium of which 58.3% were female participants. on another hand, 180 participants were included in the matched controlled group. The sample was enrolled from the geriatric acute care unit (G-ACU) between 2012 and 2014.

The team used the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) for the diagnosis of delirium which is common among older adults. It has been estimated that around 10% of the older adults have also been diagnosed with delirium during hospitalization whereas, 15% to 50% of the old people experience delirium at some point during hospitalization. The common symptoms of the delirium included impairment of consciousness and attention, disturbed sleep cycle, irritability, anger, fear, anxiety, disturbed thinking, and poor memory process.

Source: Source: Sunny Brook- Health Science Centre

To measure the hypovitaminosis D, the team used sensitivity-specificity analysis.

  • Sensitivity is a diagnostic test that can be defined as an approach to detect true disease cases in a diseased population. It is also known as true positive rate.
  • Specificity is a screening test that can be referred to as an approach to detect non-disease cases in a diseased population. It is also known as the true negative rate.

When sensitivity increases, the specificity decreases, and vise versa.

Source: Vet Zone Biostats

The team also measured other confounding variables also known as extraneous variables, that are independent but influence the effects of both independent and dependent variables in the research study, such as demographic characteristics including age, gender, number of acute diseases, use of psychoactive drugs, the season of testing, and serum concentrations of calcium, parathyroid hormone, creatinine, albumin, TSH, vitamin B9, and vitamin B12.

After the measurements, the team found that all of the 60 participants with delirium were found to have a decreased level of  25-OHD in comparison to the controlled group. 25-OHD is a stable metabolite of vitamin D. The serum concentration od 25-OHD is used clinically to assess vitamin D status.

The investigators have also determined that increment in the levels of 25-OHD can be used to lower the rate of delirium.

The researchers also used a regression model to measure the link between independent and dependent variables of the study. The findings from the regression model suggested that the delirium is linked with hypovitaminosis D or decreased levels of vitamin D.

Therefore, it would be a great help for the medical health professional if they consider the findings of the present study. Delirium in the older population can be handled by managing the levels of vitamin D.

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