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Heart Attack Risk Increases Following Knee or Hip Replacements: Study

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Recent recipients of knee and hip joint replacements may face an increased risk of heart attack during the weeks after the surgery, according to the findings of new research. 

In a study published this week in the online edition of the medical journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine warn that patients who received knee and joint hip implants are at a substantially increased risk of a heart attack immediately after surgery, with a continuing risk of future problems linked to blood clots.

The research looked at data on thousands patients ages 50 and older who underwent total knee arthroplasty (TKA) or total hip arthroplasty (THA) from January 2000 to December 2012, and compared them to control subjects to determine the rate of myocardial infarction (MI).

During the first month after surgery, knee replacement recipients were almost nine times more likely to have a heart attack than their peers. That risk gradually declined as time went on. Hip implant recipients were more than four times as likely to have a heart attack during the same time period.

“These findings provide the first general population-based evidence that TKA and THA among osteoarthritis patients are associated with a substantially increased risk of MI during the immediate postoperative period,” the researchers determined. “However, its overall long-term impact was null, unlike the risk of venous thromboembolism that remained years after the procedure.”

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