General Anesthesia is Not a Risk Factor for Dementia in Older Adults 

general anesthesia and dementia

There are many people who are concerned with an increased risk of dementia if they undergo general anesthesia for any surgery. While there are some reasons to believe that it may be true, but this new study has falsified this relation, calling general anesthesia to be safe for everyone with no effect on a person’s neurological functioning.

The complete results of this research are published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Anesthesia is a type of medicine that is given to a patient before starting a major surgery. It makes him unconscious and unable to feel the pain of surgery without causing side effects. It is commonly used in heart surgeries, knee replacements, cancer tumor removal, and transplants which are otherwise almost impossible in the absence of general anesthesia.

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A certified physician determines the quantity of medicine used to put a patient under anesthesia. He is around the surgery to make sure all vital signs are running smoothly despite being in the middle of a surgery. In case any of the body function starts functioning irregularly, he is the one that saves a life.

Once the surgery is completed, the anesthesiologist than administers more medicines to wake up the patient and monitors him to see if his body is functioning normally. The pain of surgery and wound take some days or weeks to heal but anesthesia saves a person from going under the surgery which is impossible if he is awake and active during the time of surgery.

There are many health experts who believe that general anesthesia does posses some risk which is why the health of older adults remains at high risk during a surgery that needs them under anesthesia. To understand this relation between two factors, the researchers of this study went through the data obtained from patients who were under general anesthesia and regional anesthesia for any elective surgery. This evaluation helped them to find a possible link between exposure to general anesthesia and how it affected their risk of getting dementia or Alzheimer’s later.

The researcher analyzed data from 7,499 patients who were at least 66 years old or above and were under surgery between the years 2007 and 2011. They checked their follow-up medical records for finding the connection with neurological conditions and diseases.

Surprisingly, they found no link between dementia and general anesthesia, and the outcomes were similar to those who were under regional anesthesia.

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Dallas P. Seitz, from the University of Calgary, is a co-author of this study. According to him, older adults are likely to experience certain changes in their brain function and cognitive abilities after they go under any major surgery. Irrespective of which type of anesthesia they are given, their old-age risk factors remain the same.

This study provides strong evidence that the choice of anesthetic technique on an older patient for any of his elective surgeries doesn’t make him vulnerable to dementia, Alzheimer’s, or any related disease in later years.

Other types of anesthesia include monitored sedation, local and regional anesthesia. Sedation is recommended for those minimal surgeries such as colonoscopy. It leaves a person drowsy and not completely unconscious. Regional anesthesia is used for pregnant women and surgeries of limbs and abdominal. A person is awake under a regional anesthesia but unable to feel pain. Local anesthesia only numbs a small region of the skin and is used for minor procedures like mole removing or stitches.

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