National Anaesthesia Day 2017

The theme for the 2017 ANZCA National Anaesthesia Dayb was "anaesthesia and ageing".

Older patients are more sensitive to anaesthetic drugs; more likely to develop complications and infections; and take longer to recover from anaesthesia. The video below outlines the kinds of things you should discuss with your anaesthetist before surgery, including any medical conditions you might have and any medication you are taking. 

How do medical conditions and medications affect anaesthesia?

Older patients are more likely to be taking medications, some of which may react with anaesthetic drugs or they may have medical conditions that could be aggravated by anaesthesia, including:

High blood pressure, heart disease, breathing problems, lung disease and diabetes.


Will my memory and thinking be affected by anaesthesia?

The older you are, the more likely you are to suffer from post-operative confusion. However, if this happens, it is usually temporary – affecting fewer than 20 per cent of older patients for longer than three months after anaesthesia. In some very rare cases, deterioration may persist or worsen. This may be more obvious in patients who already had some cognitive decline before their anaesthesia.

Is an operation the best option?

Anaesthetists are highly skilled at managing older, sick patients. However, an operation may not be the only option. The decision not to operate may in fact reflect the best possible care in some cases. Pain can often be managed without an operation so patients and their families should talk to their anaesthetist about the risks and benefits of an operation and anaesthesia compared with alternative treatment options.

How can I prepare for my operation?

There are many things you can do such as stop smoking, improve your fitness and make sure you eat well. It is important to talk to your anaesthetist about your medications and any medical conditions that may affect your anaesthesia. Your anaesthetist will advise you on what is best for your individual situation.


We produced a series of resources aimed at helping patients understand the effects of anaesthesia on the ageing body and encouraging them to discuss their options with their anaesthetist.

Previous National Anaesthesia Days

Each year we look at a different aspect of anaesthesia. Click on the images below to see past themes.

Copyright © Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.