How Anesthesia Can Lead to Dementia

The Link Between Anesthesia and Dementia

Exposure to general anesthesia could up the risk of dementia in elderly patients by more than one third,  a new study shows.

The findings, presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Anesthesiology, analyzed the cases of 9,924 people, aged 65 or older, in three cities in France. The participants were interviewed  between 1999 and 2001 and then two, four and seven years later.

Over the years of follow-up, nine percent of patients  developed dementia over the 8 subsequent years of follow-up. Matching those numbers with the number of subjects who had general anesthesia, the  researchers found that demented patients were 37 percent more likely to have received anaesthesia  than non-demented patients.

Previous research has shown that POCD (post-operative cognitive dysfunction) is common in elderly patients after surgery, possibly because some anesthetics promote inflammation of brain tissues.

Study author Dr Francois Sztark, of the University of Bordeaux, said that the research indicated a need for monitoring of POCD while patients were still in the hospital recovering from surgery. 

 

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