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Tue, Feb 6 12:31am

Breaking it Down: Post Intensive Care Sydrome and Risk Factors

By Annie, Mayo ICU Nurse Practitioner, @andreab


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:

Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's Talk



Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 10, 2017
Posted by @carcinoid, 5 days ago

100 days in house for my husband. Most of the time in ICU-6 surgeries and absolutely no muscle, could not sit, move his legs or lift his arms. Left with an annoying very loud noise in his head, sometimes keeps him awake, he needs a fan on to help drown out the noise. No help known for this issue.

Posted by @colleenyoung, 3 days ago

Hi @carcinoid, welcome to Connect. I’d like to invite you to a couple of discussion groups.
Here you can connect with others dealing with post ICU symptoms:

And I’m guessing from your @username that you might be interested in the carcinoid cancer group here:

Posted by @andreab, 10 hours ago

@carcinoid I am so glad you found this Page. You and your husband are undoubtedly going through and exhaustive and intensely stressful time. One thing we know about critical illness and recovery, is that everyone experiences this so differently. The physical, emotional, and cognitive aftermath is unique to each person. However, despite that there are also incredible similarities as well. @colleenyoung previously mentioned the online discussion group that you might find very helpful. A community of people have come together to share these experiences – knowing you're not alone in this is very powerful. Welcome to the conversation.

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