Researchers suggest in a new study that older people with osteoarthritis who undergo knee and hip replacements may be at an increased risk for myocardial infarction (MI) during the first postoperative month.

However, according to a media release from Wiley, although this risk gradually declined over time, the risk for venous thromboembolism—blood clots in the veins and lungs—remained years after the procedure.

The study was recently published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology, per the release.

“While evidence shows that joint replacement surgery improves pain, function, and quality of life for the osteoarthritis patient, the impact of cardiovascular health has not been confirmed,” explains lead study author Yuqing Zhang, DSc, professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine in Boston, in the release.

“Our study examines if joint replacement surgery reduces risk of serious cardiovascular events among osteoarthritis patients,” he adds.

Study participants included 13,849 patients who underwent total knee replacement surgery and 13,849 matched controls who did not have surgery. Patients were 50 years of age or older, and were diagnosed with knee or hip osteoarthritis between January 2000 and December 2012, the release explains.

Among them, 306 patients in the arthroplasty group and 286 in the nonsurgical group developed myocardial infarction during the follow-up period. Risk of heart attack was significantly higher during the first postoperative month in those who had knee replacement surgery compared to those in the nonsurgical group, and gradually declined over time.

Venous thromboembolism was a significant risk during the first month and continued over time for those having total knee or total hip arthroplasty, the release continues.

“Our findings provide the first general population-based evidence that osteoarthritis patients who have total knee or total hip replacement surgery are at increased risk of heart attack in the immediate postoperative period,” Zhang concludes in the release.

“The long-term risk of heart attack was insignificant, but risk of blood clots in the lung remained for years after surgery to replace a hip or knee damaged by osteoarthritis,” he states.

[Source(s): Wiley, Science Daily]