For older adults with severe arthritis in their lower extremities, elective knee or hip replacement surgery could have more benefits than just improved mobility. A new study by Canadian researchers indicates one offshoot of such procedures could be a healthier heart.
"... this study found a cardioprotective benefit of primary elective total joint arthroplasty."
Translation: Joint replacement surgery led to a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study, posted Thursday on the website of the British Medical Journal, examined adults aged 55 or older with hip or knee osteoarthritis who were recruited between 1996 and 1998.
Researchers selected 153 patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis who had joint replacement surgery. Each patient was then matched and measured against another -- based on severity of arthritis, age, income, smoking status, diabetes and other factors -- who did not undergo joint replacement surgery.
From the New York Times' Well health and science blog:
Then the researchers followed them for seven years, during which there were 111 instances of a serious cardiovascular event — heart attack, stroke, heart failure, coronary artery bypass surgery, angioplasty or death from cardiovascular disease. ...
Compared with those who had neither knee nor hip surgery, those who had an operation were 40 percent less likely to have a cardiovascular event. Patients who had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease also benefited — joint replacement operations were associated with a 29 percent decreased risk of a cardiovascular events for this group.
Joint replacement has several effects that could contribute to the reduced risk, according to the lead author, Dr. Bheeshma Ravi, a resident in orthopedic surgery at the University of Toronto. “Debilitating arthritis limits the ability to exercise, which in turn leads to worse outcomes for the heart,” he said. A joint replacement reduces “pain and inflammation and even depression, all risk factors for cardiac events.”
This all begs the obvious question: How does the simultaneous replacement of both the hip and knee at age 13 benefit one's heart over roughly three decades?
Or not. =) Apples and oranges, I suppose.