Delirium is a common neuropsychiatric syndrome associated with poor outcomes. Evidence supports a neuroinflammatory etiology, but the role of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (C-RP) remains unclear. We investigated the relationship between C-RP and delirium and its severity as well as interaction with medical diagnosis.
From an existing database (710 patients over 70 years old admitted to a Medical Acute Admissions Unit) we analyzed data which included C-RP levels, delirium (using the Confusion Assessment Method), and other clinical and demographic factors. Primary diagnoses were grouped (cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, infection, metabolic, and other).
There was a strong association between elevated C-RP and delirium (t = 5.09; p < 0.001), independent of other potential risk factors for delirium (odds ratio (OR) = 1.32 (95% CI: 1.10–1.58) p = 0.003). There was no significant association between C-RP and delirium severity, and between C-RP and delirium in the populations with cardiovascular disease, infection upon admission, or from the metabolic group despite an OR of 2.24 (95% CI: 0.92–5.45). There was an association in the musculoskeletal group (OR 2.19 (95% CI: 1.19–4.02)).
Conclusions: There is an association between elevated C-RP and delirium. This is strongest in patients admitted with musculoskeletal disease but not in others, implying that C-RP is involved in the genesis of delirium in musculoskeletal disease, but that other factors or processes may be more important in those with cardiovascular disease or infection.