The prospect of undergoing invasive surgery can be scary, especially for those who have never been “under the knife” before. While the risks of any surgery can be frightening, it is the untold side effects of anesthesia that may be most concerning for many patients. According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals who receive anesthesia may be at risk for the development of mental confusion, heart attack, stroke, or even death. Understanding why these conditions occur—and how they can be avoided—is crucial for those who are considering medical procedures that require anesthesia.
Permanent Mental Confusion
Anesthesia is designed to induce a coma-like state for men and women who are undergoing invasive surgery or other medical procedures. When used properly, anesthesia eliminates pain, erases memory, induces a state of unconsciousness, and artificially “paralyzes” the body. As anesthesia starts to wear off, patients often experience a high degree of drowsiness, confusion, and even agitation. While it is common for the patient to experience these symptoms on a short-term basis, there is also a risk of the development of permanent mental confusion following the use of anesthesia during surgery or other similar medical therapies.
WebMD reports that individuals who receive anesthesia may also be at risk for the development of a heart attack. Traditionally, a heart attack occurs when the arteries of the heart become blocked with plaque and fatty deposits—thus limiting the amount of blood supply to the working organ. However, research shows that certain types of medications, including those found in anesthesia, can also be to blame when it comes to the development of this type of condition. Individuals who have a family history of heart disease or have suffered a heart attack in the past may not be appropriate for treatments that require the use of anesthesia.
As with a heart attack, stokes occur when blood supply to a certain part of the body—in this case, the brain—is limited. Unfortunately, recovery from a stroke can be quite difficult, and may result in permanent disability in regards to specific bodily functions. Anesthesia is often blamed for the development of a stroke due to its association with increasingly high blood pressure levels and dangerous heart arrhythmias. Patients who have high blood pressure often require close monitoring during anesthesia to avoid the development of this serious and de-habilitating condition.
Death is perhaps the most serious danger associated with medical treatments requiring anesthesia. While a patient can die following anesthesia as a result of a heart attack or stroke, infection, allergic reactions, and over dosages can also be fatal. Individuals who are scheduled to receive anesthesia should be sure to meet with their medical team well in advance of the planned procedure to discuss both the risks and benefits of the treatment. Patients who do not feel comfortable receiving anesthesia after speaking with their healthcare team should consider what other options are available to them when treating their specific medical condition.