Risk of cognitive decline in the elderly following surgery

Dementia_eIt’s generally assumed that older adults may experience memory loss and other problems in cognition (reasoning) following surgery.

Results from a study at Washington University, in St. Louis, Missouri suggest otherwise.

First, the details.

  • The medical records of 575 older adults, some with very mild or mild dementia were reviewed.
  • They were divided into 3 groups.
    • Those with noncardiac surgery
    • With illness
    • Neither
  • They were followed long-term for cognitive function before and after surgery and illness.

And, the results.

  • Changes in cognition didn’t differ among the 3 groups.
  • However, demented participants declined more markedly than nondemented participants.
  • Of the initially nondemented participants, 23% progressed to dementia; but this wasn’t more common after surgery or illness.

The bottom line?
Dr. John Morris concluded, “There has been a widespread belief that the memory and thinking abilities of patients with early Alzheimer’s disease may worsen as a consequence of surgery, but the evidence from this study does not support that belief.”

11/21/09 20:15 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.