Dementia risk may be higher for older people who have general anaesthetics

French study finds higher incidence in elderly people who have had operations

Elderly patients who undergo operations requiring a general anaesthetic may be at greater risk of developing dementia, researchers warn today.

A study of more than 9,000 adults with an average age of 75 found the risk of suffering dementia was raised by a third in those who had had a general anaesthetic up to a decade earlier.

It is common for people immediately following general anaesthetic to have short-term difficulties with speaking and thinking. The condition, known as post-operative cognitive dysfunction (POCD), is thought to be caused by inflammation of nerve fibres in the brain. But it is not known whether POCD is associated with the later development of dementia.

Researchers at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) and the University of Bordeaux interviewed almost 9,300 residents over the age of 65 in three French cities  and monitored them for a decade. After two years one in five (19 per cent) reported having had a general anaesthetic. Over the following eight years almost one in ten (9 per cent) of the entire group developed dementia.

Dr Francois Sztark, who led the study due to be presented to the Euroanaesthesia Congress in Barcelona today, said the results showed a 35 per cent increase in the risk of dementia among those who had had a general anaesthetic during the first two years of the study.

Dr Sztark said: “There is a lot of data suggesting potential neurotoxicity of anaesthetic agents. However general anaesthesia often cannot be avoided regardless of patient age. We need other studies to understand the mechanisms involved in anaesthesia-induced neurotoxicity, and to develop strategies for avoiding potential neurotoxicity.”

Dr Eric Karran, the director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Research into the impact of anaesthetics on dementia is challenging because it can be very difficult to tease out cause and effect. Dementia is caused by several brain diseases, many of which arise from a complex mix of genetic and environment factors.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Housing Assistant

    £16819 - £21063 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager - OTE £60,000

    £35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In 2014, they launched the worl...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Design Lead

    £23958 - £29282 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

    Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

    £22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones