Anesthesia May Increase Alzheimer's Risk
Anesthesia has been known for decades to have some minor side effects, such as hair loss, or temporary nausea or dizziness. But now there's a new, more serious anesthesia side effect to add to the list: Alzheimer's Disease. In a recent study performed on mice, anesthesia was found to be safe for normal mice, but potentially harmful for mice with genetic risk factors for Alzheimer's, according to researchers. The same is likely to be true for humans, leading scientists to urge doctors to consider a patient's genetic background before recommending anesthesia for surgery.
Dr. Maria Angeles Mena, director of the Neuropharmacology Laboratory at Hospital Ramon y Cajal in Madrid, Spain, coordinated the study performed by predoctoral student Juan Perucho and others.
The use of repetitive anesthesia with isoflurane -- one of the most common anesthetics by inhalation -- increases the risk of developing changes similar to those observed in brains with Alzheimer's disease in mice with mutations of the amyloid precursor protein.
The findings suggest a possible mechanism of developing Alzheimer's. Some epidemiological studies have shown an increased prevalence of the disease in patients undergoing anesthesia and surgery, the study says.
Dr. Justo Garcia de Yebenes states that "before surgery requiring anesthesia, it may be ideal to know the genetic background of the patients so that the drugs used and the pattern of anesthesia may be personalized accordingly."
The finding is published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
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