A 2013 report in the Journal of Anesthesia Clinical Research proposed that the potential link between memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease with general anesthesia “is an important preoperative concern from patients and their family members. This concern arises from individuals who have had history of cognitive impairment or have had a family member with Alzheimer disease and have tried to obtain information from public media. Proper preoperative consultation with the awareness of the lay literature can be useful in reducing patient and patient family member’s preoperative anxiety related to this concern.”
However a recent study by the Mayo Clinic suggests that receiving general anesthesia for surgery after age 40 doesn’t appear to raise the risk for mild thinking and memory problems later in life, as reported by HealthDay.
After studying more than 1,700 patients in Minnesota aged 70 to 89 who had normal mental functions starting in 2004, about 85 percent of this group had at least one surgery involving general anesthesia after the age of 40.
Mayo researchers found that they could find no correlation between exposure to anesthesia for surgery and the development of mild cognitive impairment.
This confirms an earlier study that found that older patients who receive anesthesia do not have an increased risk of dementia.