If you have moderate to severe osteoarthritis in your knee or hip, you may be thinking about whether or not to have a total joint replacement. If so, there’s a benefit to joint replacement you may not have considered—a healthier heart.
In a recent study in the British Medical Journal, researchers analyzed people age 55 and older who had knee or hip osteoarthritis. They matched 153 pairs of participants who had total joint replacement with those who hadn’t, and then followed them for 7 years. At the end of the study period, those who had a joint replacement were about 20% less likely to have experienced a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or other heart event.1
- Learn more: 5 Steps to a Healthier Heart
The researchers have several theories to explain this cut in heart risks:
- Joint replacement may have improved participants’ ability to be physically active, and exercise has proven effects to improve heart health and cut risk for heart events.
- The pain relief offered by joint replacement may have reduced stress and depression levels, both of which are hard on the heart.
- Pain relief after joint replacement may also have reduced participants’ use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which is also associated with heart risks.
Whether or not you choose to have joint replacement surgery for your arthritis, it’s important to stay as active as you can. Physical activity not only can help ease the pain of osteoarthritis and even slow a joint’s degeneration, but it can also improve your mood, help you sleep better, give you more energy, and help you lose weight (which is a proven way to ease osteoarthritis symptoms).
Good ways for those with arthritis to stay active include:
- Water aerobics
- Tai chi
- 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