1. Common anesthesia linked to death risk

    Urgent new warning over anesthesia

    The name etomidate isn't familiar to most people, but it should be. It's one of the most widely used anesthesia drugs on the planet -- one that's being used in hospitals across the country right now, as you read this.

    It's used for both major surgeries and minor procedures. And if you've ever been brought into the emergency room and had to be put under quick, it's the drug they probably used to knock you out.

    If that's the case, I'm glad you're still around to read this letter -- because new research finds that etomidate could boost your risk of death by 250 percent and increase your risk of serious heart problems by 50 percent when compared to the anesthesia drug propofol.

    These risks don't always strike right there on the spot, in the operating room (if they did, this alert would have gone out long ago). No, they can take days or even weeks to appear -- up to a full month after the procedure, according to the study in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia.

    This isn't the first time etomidate has been linked to serious illness or death. Other studies have found that patients given the drug have a higher risk of death from sepsis in particular.

    But those other studies focused on critically ill patients.

    As the new study shows, the risks could strike anyone -- even people who are otherwise healthy.

    And that means there are two actions you need to take if surgery might be in your future.

    First, make sure the doctor is planning to use something other than etomidate.

    And second, don't assume other anesthetics are safe -- because they all come with risks that you need to be aware of. And the biggest risk of all is that you could get too much, especially if you're a senior.

    One recent study finds that two-thirds of all seniors are given too much anesthesia. This doesn't lead to a better or deeper sleep, as you might assume, but to potential complications during surgery as well as problems during recovery -- including a dementia-like condition that could last for weeks or months.

    Speak with your doctor and anesthesiologist before any procedure and make sure you get the lowest possible dose of the safest drug.

    And after your procedure, I recommend detoxifying nutrients such as glutathione and milk thistle extract to help your brain recover from the lingering effects of anesthesia.

  2. Seniors are routinely given too much anesthesia

    Surgery is traumatic enough at any age. But once you get up there in years, even a minor operation can be tough to recover from -- especially when you're given an overdose of anesthesia.

    And sadly, this happens all the time.

    In fact, two-thirds of all seniors get too much anesthesia during surgery, according to a new analysis that also finds the median dose of the anesthetic propofol given to seniors is nearly 20 percent higher than the highest dose they should have received.

    This isn't a simple matter of giving patients a little extra to make sure they're unconscious. It's a dangerous practice that can complicate the surgery and turn recovery into a nightmare.

    In this case, the researchers found that seniors given overdoses of anesthesia were more likely to suffer hypotension, or low blood pressure, right after the anesthesia kicks in.

    It didn't increase the death rate, and because of that the researchers seem to think this might not be that big a deal.

    But it is a big deal -- because there are other factors to consider here besides the death rate, like recovery times and complications, and unfortunately the study didn't look at any of those.

    Any operation in seniors also comes with a risk of cognitive problems -- including a dementia-like condition called postoperative cognitive dysfunction, or POCD. And seniors who are put under are more likely to experience it.

    The condition can last for days, weeks, or even months -- and seniors discharged from the hospital with POCD actually have a higher death risk.

    Anesthesia can also cause or worsen delirium, a growing problem in hospitals that often leads to a downward spiral as doctors give these seniors powerful antipsychotic drugs that can actually make the condition worse.

    That's why it's absolutely essential that seniors only get anesthesia when they need it -- and, when they do, at the lowest possible dose.

    If you or someone you love is going in for surgery, be sure to have a few words with the doctor beforehand about anesthesia -- and make sure he listens.

    In addition, I recommend detoxifying nutrients such as glutathione and milk thistle extract to help the brain recover from anesthesia. Acupuncture can also be helpful.

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