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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care
Minerva Anestesiologica 2012 May;78(5):605-18
Evaluation of perioperative risk in elderly patients
Aubrun F., Gazon M., Schoeffler M., Benyoub K. ✉
Department of Anesthesiology and Resuscitation, Claude Bernard-Lyon 1 University, Groupe Hospitalier Nord, Croix Rousse Hospital, Lyon, France
From a medical point of view, aging is characterized by a potential failure to maintain homeostasis under conditions of physiological stress. This failure is associated with an increase in vulnerability. Physiological changes associated with aging are progressive but concomitant injury or diseases may rapidly worsen the health status of the patient. Increasing age independently predicts morbidity and mortality. Hypertension and dyspnea are probably two of the most frequent risk factors in elderly patients. The history of the elderly patient should assess functional status, including cardiovascular reserve sufficient to withstand very stressful operations. The type of surgery has important implications for perioperative risk and emergency surgery, particularly in the elderly, is associated with a high risk of morbidity. Elderly patients who are otherwise acceptable surgical candidates should not be denied surgery based solely on their age and concerns for postoperative renal, cardiovascular, cognitive or pulmonary complications. Renal impairment becomes more prevalent with advancing age as the glomerular filtration rate decreases. The surgical site is the single most important predictor of pulmonary complications. Concerning postoperative comfort and neurological complications, age is the highest risk factor for developing dementia. Pain is underassessed and undermanaged. The elderly are at higher risk of adverse consequences from unrelieved or undertreated pain.