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Knee, hip replacement surgeries linked to heart risks

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Study   The chances of a heart attack

People who have total hip or knee replacement surgery face a greater risk for a heart attack during the first month following the procedure, a new study finds.

The chances of a heart attack were more than eight times greater in the first 30 days after total knee replacement surgery compared to people who didn't have the procedure. The risk of a heart attack was four times greater during the month following total hip replacement surgery, the study revealed.

But the researchers noted that the findings shouldn't deter people from having these surgeries.

"Overall, neither knee or hip replacement increases the risk of heart attack over the entire follow-up period in our study, even though the risk was substantially increased shortly after surgery," he said. "This risk should not keep a patient from having either surgery."

Indeed, the odds of a heart attack dissipated over time in these patients, the study found. However, the odds of blood clots in veins and lungs increased in the month following surgery and lasted for years after knee or hip replacement was performed, the researchers said.

"Contrary to recently published findings, our study indicates that total joint replacement procedures do not provide an overall protective effect on the risk of heart attack," said lead researcher Yuqing Zhang, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine.

These findings suggest that the risk for heart attack immediately after surgery may have been underestimated, he said.

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