Frailty, dementia increase death risk in older people after surgery

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Dementia describes an overall decline in memory and other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.

Frailty is defined as the ability of older people to cope with everyday stressors is compromised by an increased vulnerability caused by age-associated declines.

In a study from Yale University, scientists found striking differences in the mortality rate of older Americans within a year of having major surgery.

These differences were particularly pronounced for geriatric-specific conditions such as frailty or dementia.

In the study, researchers looked at 1,193 major surgeries identified from 992 fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries, from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), from 2011 to 2018.

Information on frailty and dementia came via annual NHATS assessments. Information about surgeries and mortality came via data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The team found overall, nearly 1 in 7 older Americans not living in a nursing home died in the year after major surgery, including more than 1 in 4 who were frail and nearly 1 in 3 who had probable dementia.

By comparison, the expected 1-year mortality rate for the study population was less than 1 in 20 had they not undergone major surgery.

These findings define the scope and scale of mortality after major geriatric surgery in the U.S. They suggest a mixed landscape of surgical quality and safety among older people

These numbers highlight the prognostic importance of geriatric conditions such as frailty and dementia, two key determinants of health and well-being in older persons.

The researchers say the findings also point to the critical need to take such conditions into consideration prior to major surgery.

With improved preoperative optimization and recognition as well as enhanced perioperative management strategies, it is possible that mortality after major surgery could be reduced among older people, especially those in high-risk subgroups.

If you care about wellness, please read studies that Apple Watch can monitor frailty in people with heart disease, and a Mediterranean diet may reduce your risk of frailty.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about how vitamin supplementation may affect dementia risk, and recent case shows these antioxidants could help reduce the risk of dementia.

The study was conducted by Dr. Thomas M. Gill et al and published in the journal JAMA Surgery.

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