Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog

Dementia, Depression Raise Seniors’ Risk of Surgical Complications, Death

A number of mental and emotional factors could raise a senior citizen’s risk of dying during or after a surgery. These effects must be addressed during pre-surgical assessments of these persons.

These findings came from a study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. The researchers were looking at factors besides the physical health factors that are typically included in pre-surgical evaluations of older patients. These physical factors include cardiovascular diseases like heart disease, hypertension or diabetes, and other physical health factors. A senior citizen who suffers from these physical conditions is generally believed to be at a higher risk of suffering complications during or after surgery.

In the new study, however, researchers analyzed the risk factors of 1,600 senior citizens who had undergone at least one major surgery between 1994 and 2014. These seniors were above the age of 66 years. At least 90 percent of these patients were independent at the time of the pre-surgery assessment. At least 23 percent suffered from cognitive impairment without dementia, while 6 percent suffered from dementia. 25 percent of the seniors suffered from depression.

The researchers measured independence as not needing help with activities of daily living like eating, bathing, dressing or instrumental activities of daily living like handling finances, cooking and shopping.

17 percent of the patients died within a year after their surgery. Out of these, 29 percent were patients who were unable to perform at least two activities needed for daily living, without support. Only 13 percent of the fatalities involved patients who were independent.

The fatality risk corresponded to the number of risk factors that the person had. The risk was an average of 10 percent with no risk factors at all, while it increased to 16 percent for one factor and 28 percent for two factors.  The researchers say that this indicates that it is important to account for psychological and functional factors that present surgical risks for senior citizens.

Mark sure that your doctor is aware of any medical conditions you suffer from, including mental and psychological conditions that you are currently on treatment for, before your surgery. This can help pave the way for a smooth, safe and successful surgery.