13 September 2004

How to be anaesthesia fit

Cardiac and respiratory fitness are the key to a safe, uneventful operation.


Cardiac and respiratory fitness are the key to a safe, uneventful operation. However, the risk is not so much something going wrong during the anaesthetic, but while you are recovering from the operation.

There are a number of things that can be done to minimise this risk. The first is to ensure that any underlying medical condition is being treated effectively, and for this you may have to spend time in consultation with your physician or anaesthesiologist in order to optimise your condition.

The following apply to elective operations when there is no particular urgency for the operation. These are some of the common conditions that determine when you should have an anaesthetic:

  • If you have cold or flu, you should wait for 6 weeks before going in for the anaesthetic.
  • If you are a smoker, it is best to stop smoking for 3 months before undergoing surgery. Although even a few days of not smoking is a help, the full benefits of giving up take much longer to take effect.
  • Asthma should be fully controlled and if you are going through a dip, it is best to wait until your condition is properly controlled.
  • If you have had a heart attack, it is best to postpone surgery for 3 months in order to give your heart muscle a chance to heal.
  • If you have heart failure, it is essential that you be treated before surgery.
  • If you are diabetic, your blood sugar should be under tight control. Because anaesthesia and surgery involves starvation and stress, it is often necessary to change your treatment to insulin, if your surgery is anything but minor. Your anaesthesiologist will also make regular measurements of your blood sugar during the anaesthetic and will administer insulin or glucose as required.
  • If you are on chronic medication, especially for conditions such as hypertension, it is essential that you continue your medications right up to the day of surgery. You should discuss subsequent medication with your anaesthesiologist.

Read more:
Preoperative preparation


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