Here at the Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute we are proud to offer cutting edge treatment for knee replacement. We want to reduce pain and help people return to the activities they love—but it turns out that joint replacement may come with an added bonus: a reduced risk of heart disease.
In a study posted online in BMJ, Canadian researchers followed 153 people with moderate to severe osteoarthritis who underwent a knee or hip replacement and 153 people who did not. The groups were matched for severity of arthritis, age, smoking status, diabetes, and other factors.
After seven years of follow-up, the data indicated that those who underwent a knee or hip replacement were 40 percent less likely to have a cardiovascular event compared to their counterparts who did not have surgery. (Cardiovascular events included heart attack, stroke, heart failure, coronary artery bypass surgery, angioplasty or death from cardiovascular disease.) Even patients who had at least one risk factor for heart disease saw a benefit—when these patients underwent joint replacement, they had a 29 percent reduced risk of a cardiovascular event.
The reasons for the relationship are unclear, but the researchers speculated that debilitating arthritis could limit a person’s ability to exercise, which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease. What’s more, joint replacement can reduce pain, inflammation, and even depression—and all of these things are risk factors for cardiac events.
The bottom line: The results of this study indicate the dramatic impact that osteoarthritis can have on a person’s life. Of course, a reduced risk of heart disease is not a reason in and of itself to undergo joint replacement; however, it is an added benefit and serves as another indicator that severe osteoarthritis is not something to be ignored.
Ravi B, Croxford R, Austin PC, et al. The relation between total joint arthroplasty and risk for serious cardiovascular events in patients with moderate-severe osteoarthritis: propensity score matched landmark analysis. BMJ 2013;347:f6187 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6187