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General anesthesia may not raise dementia risk: Study

Toronto – Researchers have found that exposure to general anesthesia during surgery may not contribute to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. According to the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, cognitive changes are commonly observed in older adults following surgical procedures.

There are concerns that exposure to general anesthesia during surgery may raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. “Many older adults experience changes in their cognition immediately following surgery and wonder what role the type of anesthetic might have played in these changes,” said senior author Dallas P Seitz from the University of Calgary in Canada.

“Our study provides evidence that anesthetic technique used during elective surgeries, general anesthesia or regional anesthesia is not associated with a long-term risk of developing dementia,” Seitz added. To investigate, researchers compared exposure to general anesthesia versus regional anesthesia during elective surgery, looking for potential links to the development of dementia. The study included 7,499 matched pairs of community-dwelling individuals aged 66 years or older who underwent surgery between 2007 and 2011 and were followed for up to five years.

The investigators found no difference in risk of being diagnosed with dementia for individuals who received general anesthesia when compared with those who received regional anesthesia. “There was also no association between anesthesia and dementia in most subgroup and sensitivity analyses,” the study authors wrote.

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