The Surgery Risk You’re NEVER Warned About
Dr. Daniel Cole’s father hasn’t been the same since he had heart bypass surgery.
It’s been more than two years and he still forgets things, or asks the same questions several times.
“He just never got back to his cognitive baseline,” Cole explains.
And he’s not alone.
In fact, nearly a quarter of all patients experience serious brain issues after surgery.
Almost NONE of them are being warned about it… but here’s what you need to know to keep yourself or someone you love safe.
Dr. Cole’s father is one of millions of seniors suffering from postoperative cognitive dysfunction – also known as POCD.
Patients with this condition experience issues with memory, multitasking, learning, following instructions, and setting priorities – all after going under the knife.
It can take up to three months for the problems to become apparent.
And while some cases dissipate over time, others have been reported to last months, years, and even the rest of your life!
One 69-year-old man has endured cognitive difficulties ever since a surgical procedure more than a decade ago.
“He noticed these changes immediately after the surgery and claims he did not get better,” explains Dr. Roderic Eckenhoff of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Despite the fact that more than 25 percent of patients, 60 and older, suffer from POCD within a week of surgery, there is very little known about the condition.
Here’s what we do know about the problem, and which surgeries are most likely to cause it:
- A 2001 study from Duke University found that 53 percent of older adults experienced cognitive dysfunction immediately after heart bypass surgery – 36 percent were affected after 6 weeks, 24 percent at 6 months, and 42 percent after 5 years.
- Another Duke study of older adults who had knee and hip replacement surgery showed that 59 percent experienced POCD immediately after surgery, 34 percent after three months, and 42 percent at two years.
- Current research from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that, in adults 55 and up who have major non-cardiac surgeries, more than 30 percent of patients are testing worse than their baseline 3 months after surgery.
- Adults 60 and older are twice as likely to develop POCD after surgery.
- Research has revealed that no particular type of anesthesia is to blame for POCD. Instead, evidence implicates neuroinflammation due to the stress of surgery as the catalyst for the condition.
If you or a loved one needs surgery, it is crucial that you discuss POCD with your doctor and your surgeon before you go under the knife.
This should open a dialogue about the goals of surgery, surgery alternatives, and how to optimize your condition before, during, and after any procedures.
And if you do suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from POCD, contact your doctor immediately.
Remember, you’re looking for little changes like memory problems, and trouble prioritizing or completing tasks.
Fighting For Your Health,
Executive Director, Alliance For Advanced Health