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ASA Survey Finds Exaggerated Anxiety About Anesthesia

One in four respondents said they might postpone surgery out of anxiety about anesthesia

THURSDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- As many as one in four patients might postpone surgery because of anxiety about anesthesia, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) "Vital Health Report," a survey of the attitudes and beliefs the general public has about anesthesia.

The ASA administered the 44-question, online survey to a sample of 1,019 Americans, 18 years and older, half men and half women, during June 7 to 9.

Twenty-six percent of respondents said they might postpone surgery because of anxiety about anesthesia (21 percent somewhat likely, 4 percent very likely, and 1 percent extremely likely). Also, misconceptions were prevalent, with nearly 40 percent of respondents believing anesthesia is the same as being asleep and 17 percent thinking general anesthesia numbed only a small area of the body but did not affect patients' awareness. Overall, more than 75 percent of respondents expressed anxiety about anesthesia despite low anesthesia-related mortality (one death per 200,000 to 300,000 anesthetics administered).

"Our primary focus as physician anesthesiologists is the safety of our patients, which we maintain by managing their vital signs and pain levels before, during and after surgery, but it is equally important for our patients to be informed and in the best health possible prior to a procedure. The better a patient's Vital Health prior to undergoing surgery, the more likely the patient will have a better recovery and procedural outcome," Kenneth Elmassian, D.O., member of the ASA board of directors and president of the Michigan Society of Anesthesiologists, said in a statement.

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