Alzheimer's Disease and Anesthesia




Alzheimer's Disease and Anesthesia

Approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population is older than 65 years. Half of these individuals will have some form of surgery in their lifetime. One type of anesthesia commonly used during surgery is inhaled general anesthesia and, until recently, it was assumed to be nontoxic and readily eliminated at the end of surgery.

Recent cell and animal research suggests inhaled anesthesia may cause changes in the brain similar to those seen in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. While these findings are concerning, it is important to recognize that the animals in these studies were given much higher and frequent doses of inhaled anesthesia than human patients would receive. For example, the animals received anesthesia as much as 25 times over a three-month period.

There is currently no human data to indicate that patients who receive inhaled anesthesia will be at an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. If you have any concerns, discuss your anesthetic options and risk factors with your anesthesiologist prior to surgery.

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Total care of the surgical patient before, during and after surgery.


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The ASA does not employ physician anesthesiologists on staff and cannot respond to patient inquiries regarding specific medical conditions or anesthesia administration. Please direct any questions related to anesthetics, procedures or treatment outcomes to the patient’s anesthesiologist or general physician.