Anesthesia May Boost Dementia Risk

Tue, 06/04/2013 - 9:27am
Kathleen Struck

Even several years after exposure, general anesthesia increased the risk of dementia in the elderly, a French study reported.

In a prospective population-based cohort study, older adults with at with at least one exposure to general anesthesia over eight years had an increased risk of developing dementia compared with age-matched adults who were not exposed to anesthesia over the same period (relative risk 1.35, 95% CI, 1.11-1.63), Francois Sztark, MD, PhD, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale and University of Bordeaux, France, and colleagues, reported.

"Several experimental studies suggest that some anaesthetics could promote inflammation of neural tissues leading to [postoperative cognitive dysfunction] and/or Alzheimer's disease precursors including beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles," they wrote. "But it remains uncertain whether [postoperative cognitive dysfunction] can be a precursor of dementia."

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