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Developing delirium shortly after cardiac surgery may affect cognitive function through the first postoperative year, researchers found.

On average, cognitive function dipped for all patients after cardiac surgery but the recovery to baseline levels appeared to be slower for those who developed delirium, according to Jane Saczynski, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, and colleagues.

Patients who did not develop delirium returned to baseline cognitive function by about 1 month, whereas those with delirium had not reached baseline levels by 1 year, the researchers reported in the July 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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