‘National emergency’ declared for deadly brain disorder
A brain condition that strikes more than 100,000 Australians each year – resulting in episodes of extreme confusion, terror and paranoia – has been declared a ‘national emergency’ by medical experts who are calling for a comprehensive government response.
Published in BMJ Open, the first-ever Australian study of the burden of this disorder, ‘The economic impact of delirium in Australia: a cost of illness study’, reveals that delirium – a common sudden, severe episode of confusion and impaired thinking – each year affects more than 132,000 Australians, causing ten per cent of dementia cases and 900 deaths.1 Despite this, there are no approved treatments available anywhere in the world.
Experts say that in addition to better prevention and care, research is urgently needed to pinpoint biological changes in the brain which are responsible for the condition, which is an essential first step to developing treatments.
Associate Professor Gideon Caplan, Director of Geriatric Medicine at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney and President of the Australasian Delirium Association, said it is “time to declare a national emergency on delirium”.