Background: The incidence of delirium in ventilated patients is estimated at up to 82%, and it is associated with longer intensive care and hospital stays, and long-term cognitive impairment and mortality. The pathophysiology of delirium has been linked with inflammation and neuronal apoptosis. Simvastatin has pleiotropic properties; it penetrates the brain and, as well as reducing cholesterol, reduces inflammation when used at clinically relevant doses over the short term. This is a single centre randomised, controlled trial which aims to test the hypothesis that treatment with simvastatin will modify delirium incidence and outcomes.
Methods/Design: The ongoing study will include 142 adults admitted to the Watford General Hospital Intensive Care Unit who require mechanical ventilation in the first 72 hours of admission. The primary outcome is the number of delirium- and coma-free days in the first 14 days. Secondary outcomes include incidence of delirium, delirium- and coma-free days in the first 28 days, days in delirium and in coma at 14 and 28 days, number of ventilator-free days at 28 days, length of critical care and hospital stay, mortality, cognitive decline and healthcare resource use. Informed consent will be taken from patient's consultee before randomisation to receive either simvastatin (80 mg) or placebo once daily. Daily data will be recorded until day 28 after randomisation or until discharge from the ICU if sooner. Surviving patients will be followed up on at six months from discharge. Plasma and urine samples will be taken to investigate the biological effect of simvastatin on systemic markers of inflammation, as related to the number of delirium- and coma-free days, and the potential of cholinesterase activity and beta-amyloid as predictors of the risk of delirium and long-term cognitive impairment.
Discussion: This trial will test the efficacy of simvastatin on reducing delirium in the critically ill. If patients receiving the statin show a reduced number of days in delirium compared with the placebo group, the inflammatory theory implicated in the pathogenesis of delirium will be strengthened.
- Cognitive impairment
- Delirium prevention
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Pharmacology (medical)