Anesthesia Linked to Higher Risk of Dementia in Elderly

(HealthDay News) – Elderly people who have received general anesthesia are at a higher risk of developing dementia, according to a study presented at the annual Euroanaesthesia Congress, held from June 1–4 in Barcelona, Spain.

François Sztark, MD, PhD, from the University of Bordeaux in France, and colleagues assessed 7,008 elderly non-demented community-dwelling French individuals (≥65 years) for dementia and a history of anesthesia over a follow-up period of eight years.

The researchers found that 32.9% of participants initially reported receiving anesthesia over the previous two years (19% general anesthesia, 13.5% local/locoregional anesthesia). By the end of end of the follow-up, 9% developed a dementia. Individuals who developed dementia significantly more commonly reported receiving anesthesia (37% vs. 32.5%), which was entirely attributed to general anesthesia (22.3% vs. 18.7%). After adjusting for various factors, having at least one general anesthesia significantly increased the risk of developing dementia compared with no anesthesia (relative risk, 1.35).

“These results are in favor of an increased risk for dementia several years after a general anesthesia,” Sztark and colleagues conclude. “Recognition of postoperative cognitive dysfunction is essential in the perioperative management of elderly patients. A long-term follow-up of these patients should be planned.”

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