According to a report in U.S. News and World Report, 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.
Researchers in the Netherlands published the results of their findings in a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The report quotes lead researcher Dr. Arief Lalmohamed of Utrecht University in the Netherlands as saying that the study showed an association between the heart attacks and the surgery, but not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship.
Lalmohamed said the increased risk of heart attack is likely due to the side effects of surgery, which 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.
Joint replacement surgery generally has a high rate of success, yet the medical establishment has long been aware that certain types of joint replacement carry higher risks.
In 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics recalled its all-metal hip joints because of the device’s high early failure rate and tendency to shed toxic metal debris. In the United Kingdom, both the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and a professional group of U.K. surgeons called the British Hip Society have issued warnings that nearly half of the all-metal devices – as opposed to plastic and ceramic models – tend to fail within six years.
For the study about heart attacks, Lalmohamed’s team used Danish registries to estimate the risk after the joint-replacement operations, employing 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 those 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 replacement patients and 31-fold for total knee replacement patients, the study authors found.
The risk decreased rapidly after that. Six weeks after surgery, the absolute risk of a heart attack had dropped to 0.51 percent in patients who had a total hip replacement and 0.21 percent for those who had a total knee replacement.
The risk of having a heart attack was highest in those aged 60 and older, particularly patients aged 80 and older, and those who had suffered a heart attack in the six months before surgery.
If you’ve received an all-metal hip implant, you should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns. If you have significant injuries, you should also consult with a DePuy hip lawyer familiar with the case to discuss your legal rights.
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