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Hip/knee replacement surgery increases heart-attack risk?

July 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Every year nearly 2 million total hip and knee replacements are performed to treat patients with osteo-arthritis. Now a new report warns of a risk every patient should be aware of.

But a new study finds that if patients high blood pressure and/or diabetes and they need a knee replacement, it could be bad for the heart.

"The preliminary report is that there's a much higher incidence of heart attack in post-operative hip and knee patients," said cardiologist Dr. Daniel Eisenberg.

The Annals of Internal Medicine report finds total hip-replacement patients 60 and older were 25 times more likely to have a heart attack within the first two weeks after surgery. Those with total knee replacements had a slightly greater risk. But after six weeks, the risk returned to baseline.

So why does your risk for a heart attack increase? Doctors say your arteries are used to flowing at a certain rate so when you're having surgery there's blood loss. And all of a sudden your heart rate speeds up.

"So the stress on your body can make your heart work harder and if their blockage is there in the heart so blood can't get to the arteries, that's when people get heart attacks," said Dr. Eisenberg.

Eisenberg says the findings underscore the need for doctors to make sure any artery blockages are addressed before surgery. And if the benefits outweigh the risks, he recommends surgery.

"There is an increased risk, but I don't think it's going to decrease the amount of surgeries that are done, it's just going to increase our level of concern and treatment prior to surgery," said Dr. Eisenberg.

Dr. Eisenberg says there's an increased heart attack risk with any surgery so it's important to have this discussion with your doctor before booking any elective procedure.


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