Should an older adult have invasive surgery? 4 things to consider

Researchers found nearly 1 in 7 older adults die within a year of undergoing major surgery, shedding light on the risk older adults face when having invasive procedures, Kaiser Health News reported Nov. 28.

The study, published in JAMA Surgery, is one of the first to examine the outcomes of surgeries for patients 65 and older. Elderly patients undergo nearly 40 percent of all surgeries in the U.S., according to the National Library of Medicine, but data on the outcomes is limited.

The article defines invasive procedures and major surgeries as anything that takes place in operating rooms with patients under general anesthesia.

Here are four things to consider:

  1. Older adults experience more problems after surgery if they have chronic conditions, are weak or have difficulty moving, if their ability to care for themselves is compromised or if they have cognitive problems.

  2. Researchers found 1 in 3 older adults do not return to their baseline level of functioning six months after major surgery. Those most likely to recover were older adults who had elective surgeries for which they were prepared in advance.

  3. More than half of Medicare spending is devoted to inpatient and outpatient surgical care, according to an analysis.

  4. There is estimated to be nearly 30,000 fewer surgeons than needed to meet demand by 2033.

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