MONDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- People who have total hip or knee replacement surgery are about 30 times more likely to have a heart attack in the two weeks after the procedure, a new study finds.
Both surgeries are common treatments for arthritic hips and knees, with almost 2 million done around the world each year, the researchers noted.
"This study confirms the increased cardiac risk in the period following total hip and knee replacement," said lead researcher Dr. Arief Lalmohamed, from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. "Risk assessment and preoperative use of cardiovascular drugs may be necessary to reduce the risk of heart attack."
The effects of the operation are likely responsible for the increased risk of heart attack, Lalmohamed added. While the study showed an association between the two events, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
These side effects of surgery include the aftereffects of anesthesia on the cardiovascular system, blood loss, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and lack of oxygen, all of which are known to increase risk of heart attacks, he said.
"In addition, the period before surgery itself is a very stressful time for the patient, even thinking about surgery increases cardiac risk," Lalmohamed said.
The report was published online July 23 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
For the study, Lalmohamed's team used Danish registries to estimate the risk of heart attack after these operations.
In total, the researchers had data on more than 95,000 patients who underwent total hip or knee replacement surgery between January 1998 and December 2007.
The investigators compared the heart attack risk in these patients to more than 286,000 similar patients who didn't have surgery.
During the first two weeks after surgery, the risk for a heart attack was increased 25-fold for total hip re
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