Breaking it Down: Post Intensive Care Sydrome and Risk Factors
Not surprisingly, the top risk factor for developing Post Intensive Care Syndrome is experiencing critical illness or injury. However, beyond that one self-explanatory factor, there is a lot we have yet to learn about risk factors and how they relate to challenges in the post-ICU time period. The following is a list and explanation of some the associated conditions and/or critical care interventions that are currently recognized as risk factors for the development of PICS.
- Delirium. Of all the risk factors that have been examined at this time, the development of delirium during an ICU stay has been most closely associated with the development of PICS. Delirium itself is a disturbance in a person's mental abilities. It can cause one to have confused thinking and a decreased awareness of one's surroundings. Because of it's significant association to PICS, we will spend more time in future posts specifically dedicated to discussing delirium as it relates to Post Intensive Care Syndrome.
- Length of time on bedrest. As you recall, one of the areas that PICS can affect is one's body. This risk factor is directly related to muscle loss and the development of physical weakness. The cycle of weakness can lead to physical pain and fatigue which cycles right back to more immobility and thus increased weakness. It can be a difficult cycle to break.
- Sepsis. Sepsis is a very serious infection in the body that causes many people to become critically ill. Often times sepsis can cause different organ systems in the body to fail, which in itself is yet another risk factor for PICS.
Other risk factors that are discussed as contributing to this problem include: age, need for a breathing machine while in the ICU, use of sedative medications, preexisting mental health conditions, and others. As the medical community continues to learn more about Post Intensive Care Syndrome, certainly more will be discovered about what places people at risk.
Come back next month when we discuss specific signs and symptoms to look for in Post Intensive Care Syndrome.
In the meantime, join our conversation online. Have you or a loved one experienced critical illness/injury? You're not alone. Share your story and connect with others who have been on the same journey: