The AHEAD study

Are Healthcare interventions Exacerbating Alzheimer’s Disease?

Why are we doing this study?

Previous research has shown that some people experience changes to their thinking and memory following surgery and anaesthesia. This relationship is yet to be explored among patients with a pre-existing memory complaint.

What are we trying to find out?

This study will investigate the effects of surgery and anaesthesia on those with existing memory decline prior to surgery. 

To do so, we will ask participants to complete a number of questionnaires and memory puzzles at a number of time points for up to two years. Our study will include two groups of participants; those having surgery and a control group of participants not having surgery at this time. 

Time points include:

1 week prior to surgery → 1 week after surgery → 3 months after surgery → 1 year after surgery → 2 years after surgery

What is the time commitment of participation?

The memory tests will take between an hour and an hour and a half. They involve completing puzzles and questionnaires. At each time point we are happy to come to the participant’s home or convenient location.

Is there anything else I should know?

  • This study does not add any risks to your surgery.
  • Participation in this study is entirely voluntary.
  • You may withdraw at anytime.
  • A decision to participate, or to withdraw at any time, will not influence the level of care and treatment you receive in any way.
  • Strict guidelines must be adhered to by all investigators at St. Vincent’s Hospital. These are designed to protect the interests of people who agree to take part in our research.
  • You can contact the investigators at any time for any questions relating to this trial.

How might participation benefit me?

As stated above, participation in this study is voluntary. There are no direct benefits associated with taking part.

That said, if you have concerns about your memory or thinking, you may wish to discuss this with members of the research team. We can refer you to an appropriate memory clinic or service if you wish.

How might my participation benefit others?

By participating in this research you are contributing to collective understandings of how surgery and anaesthesia affects the brain. This knowledge is invaluable to the continued optimisation of patient-centered care in hospital and beyond discharge.

To be eligible you must meet the following criteria:

  • You are aged 60 years or older.
  • You haven’t undergone a surgery involving general anaesthesia during the past 12 months (colonoscopies and endoscopies are okay!)
  • You are scheduled to undergo a surgical procedure in the near future OR you are unlikely to undergo a procedure any time soon (and would be willing to participate as a control).

If you meet the above criteria and would like to be involved, send us an email:

For more info?

For more information on any aspect of the trial, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team:

t: +61 3 9231 2071
f: +61 3 9231 4255