Health risk factors in the anesthesia population

  • The prevalence of lifestyle risk factors in perioperative patients is high.
  • A total of 30.1% of patients had no lifestyle risk factor.
  • The most prevalent health risk factors were overweight, smoking, and hypertension.
  • Overweight and hypertension are frequently underreported by patients.
  • Patient self-reports require critical appraisal.

Study objective

We investigated the prevalence of lifestyle risk factors in patients admitted to our preoperative assessment outpatient clinic, and compared patient self-reports and anesthetist reports of health risk factors to evaluate the patient self-image of preoperative health status.


Cross-sectional survey.


The study was performed in an academic teaching hospital in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, during 3 consecutive months at the preoperative screening clinic.


A total of 1227 adult patients scheduled for surgery were screened, and 1111 were included (patients being excluded where data were incomplete).

Interventions and measurements

Before health risk screening by an anesthetist, patients filled out a lifestyle risk factor questionnaire including overweight, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, smoking, physical activity, and alcohol use. These were compared with risk factors stated in the preoperative assessment report of the anesthetist.

Main results

The study population was aged 51 ± 17 years with a body mass index of 25.6 ± 4.7 kg/m2. The most frequent lifestyle risk factors reported by the anesthetist were overweight and obesity (47.5%), smoking (25.3%), and hypertension (23.7%). The prevalence of no, 1, or 2 lifestyle risk factors in the preoperative assessment outpatient clinic population was, respectively, 30.1%, 35.6%, and 18.5% reported by the anesthetist and 36.4%, 36.7%, and 18.6% reported by the patients. Patients with more lifestyle risk factors were older with a higher body mass index and American Society of Anesthesiologists classification. Differences in reporting of lifestyle risk factors between patients and anesthetist occurred especially with overweight (26.5% vs 47.5%).


The prevalence of lifestyle risk factors in perioperative patients is high, and differences in reporting between patients and anesthetists may suggest that patients are unaware of or ignore their unhealthy state. Further studies are warranted to investigate the association between the lifestyle risk factors and outcome in the anesthesiology setting.

Full reference: Scharwächter, W.H. et al. Health risk factors in the anesthesia population Journal of Clinical Anesthesia. Volume 32, Pages 33–39


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