Perioperative pharmacology in elderly patients

Amrik Singh, Joseph F. Antognini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: Populations across the world are getting older and requiring more surgery. Elderly patients present unique challenges to the anesthesiologist and anesthesia-care team. This review addresses some concerns when caring for an elderly patient. Specifically, we discuss postoperative cognitive decline (POCD) and postoperative delirium, perioperative beta-blockade and use of newer drugs, as well as older drugs. Recent findings: POCD has emerged as a new concern for anesthesiologists and their older patients. Several recent studies indicate that POCD is common after noncardiac surgery, with an incidence approaching 30-40% at discharge, although this incidence declines at 3 months. Some data suggest that POCD imparts risk for death. However, there is conflicting evidence. With regard to beta-blocker therapy, there has been growing concern about widespread use of beta-blocker therapy in the perioperative period, especially because such therapy might increase the risk for stroke. Summary: Elderly patients require focused diligent care. They are particularly sensitive to the many drugs that are administered in the perioperative period. Recent data suggest that POCD is a real concern, but it is unclear what, if anything, can be done to prevent this complication. Beta-blocker therapy is beneficial in select patients but its widespread use cannot be supported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-454
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Anaesthesiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • delirium
  • elderly
  • myocardial infarction
  • perioperative beta-blockers
  • pharmacology
  • postoperative cognitive dysfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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