General Anesthesia Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia in Elderly

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0  Updated at 12:22 pm, June 2nd, 2013 By: ABC Digital
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Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study shows that senior citizens who go under general anesthesia during medical procedures may experience an increased rate of dementia.

General anesthesia is used to make a patient unconscious and unable to feel pain or discomfort during medical procedures. Often, anesthesia is delivered through intravenous drugs or inhaled gases.

Elderly patients frequently develop a conditioned known as post-operative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) after major surgeries. Experts believe that POCD may be a precursor to lasting dementia.

In a study, researchers in France followed over 7,000 patients who did not suffer from dementia and analyzed data taken from those patients over a span of ten years.

Over 22 percent of those who had a medical history including general anesthesia developed dementia. That rate is 35 percent higher than in patients without a history of general anesthesia, 18.7 percent of whom developed dementia.

It is possible that other health conditions contributed to a higher rate of dementia, as senior citizens who undergo procedures requiring general anesthesia may be less healthy than those who did not require those procedures.

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