Major surgery may boost Alzheimer’s disease risk

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In a new study, researchers found that major surgery is a promoter or accelerator of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Bonn Medical Center and elsewhere.

AD is one of the greatest public health challenges. From the moment the first lesions appear in the brain to the clinical manifestations, up to 20 years can pass.

Today doctors can detect the presence of these initial lesions through biochemical markers such as amyloid-β, which is one of the main proteins accumulated in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

The frequency of amyloid-β deposits in healthy people increases with age, and after 65 years of age, they would be present in up to one-third of the population.

However, it is not well known what determines how in amyloid-β carriers the disease progresses more or less rapidly towards dementia or even remains inactive.

In the study, the team examined the link between cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) amyloid-β levels and surgery.

They administered cognitive tests to healthy people over the age of 65 before undergoing surgery; obtained samples of CSF to determine amyloid-β levels during anesthesia, and then administered the same tests again nine months later.

They found that half of the patients’ cognition worsened compared to their state before surgery, and those who had altered amyloid-β levels exhibited a pattern compatible with the onset of AD, in which memory problems predominated.

The team says although the phenomenon of cognitive deterioration after surgery has been known for a long time, there are few studies that relate it to AD.

The current results show that major surgery can trigger different patterns of cognitive alterations, depending on the previous presence or absence of Alzheimer’s pathological changes.

It is important that pre-surgical evaluation studies include cognitive tests, and even the analysis of Alzheimer’s biomarkers, especially once these become widely available in plasma.”

One author of the study is the principal investigator Pascual Sánchez-Juan.

The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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