An Operation Under General Anesthesia as a Risk Factor for Age-Related Cognitive Decline: Results from a Large Cross-Sectional Population Study

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate the factor 'operation under general anesthesia' as a possible risk factor for age-related cognitive decline.

DESIGN:

A retrospective, population-based, cross-sectional study.

SETTING:

Maastricht Aging Study (MAAS), Maastricht, The Netherlands.

PARTICIPANTS:

1257 normal healthy subjects aged 24 to 86 years. Of the 1257 healthy subjects, 946 subjects appeared to have undergone at least one operation under general anesthesia.

MEASUREMENTS:

The history of an operation under general anesthesia, number of operations, duration of anesthesia, cognitive performance, subjective health, and subjective memory were measured.

RESULTS:

A history of an operation under general anesthesia, the number of operations, and the total duration of anesthesia significantly contributed to the number of subjective health-related complaints but did not predict cognitive performance or memory complaints. Subjects with a history of an operation under general anesthesia felt less healthy than subjects who had never undergone an operation under general anesthesia. No interactions with age were found.

CONCLUSION:

The present study found no support for the notion that a history of an operation under general anesthesia is a determinant or risk factor for accelerated age-related cognitive decline.

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