Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 1 » Anesthesia - Basics Of Anesthesia, The Unique Challenge Of The Elderly Patient, Preoperative Assessment, Intraoperative Management - Conclusion

Anesthesia - The Unique Challenge Of The Elderly Patient

age aging stress surgery anesthetic medical

Aging decreases the ability of every organ system in the body to withstand stress, including those associated with surgery and anesthesia. Stress begins in surgery with the combined effects of the anesthetic and surgical trauma. After surgery, the patient faces a potentially long period of recovery from that trauma, as well as the stress of pain. Chronic diseases such as stroke, Figure 1 When a person is under anesthesia, monitoring equipment is used to oversee the patient's vital signs. SOURCE: Author heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure also compromise the body's ability to withstand stress and make the patient more vulnerable to complications such as a heart attack, pneumonia, kidney failure, or even death. Aging has its greatest adverse impact on older patients who also have medical illness. Among healthy people, the risk of complications from anesthesia and surgery increases only slightly with age. Among people with multiple chronic medical conditions, however, risk dramatically increases with age. The challenge to the care of elderly patients lies in tailoring the anesthetic to the patient's medical illnesses as well as taking into account the effect of age on the responses to the anesthetic. In all phases of anesthetic care, everything is done with an eye to reducing the likelihood that complications will occur.

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