Tips to minimize the risks of anesthesia

Careful planning may help you avoid side effects.

It's always concerning when the doctor says you need a procedure that requires anesthesia. On top of worries about the procedure itself, you may wonder how you'll react to anesthesia, especially now that you're older. The answer is complicated.

Aging changes everyone's basic physiology. Anesthesia introduces some risk, but less so than the risk from underlying health conditions, the surgical procedure itself, and the care you receive after surgery," says Dr. Angela Bader, an anesthesiologist and founding director of the Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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