Caregivers should closely monitor the cardiac functions of elderly joint-replacement patients during the first two to six weeks following surgery, according to a large-scale study published by Archives of Internal Medicine.
For patients over age 60, the risk of a heart attack rose significantly during the post-op period following total joint replacement surgery, the study noted. Knee-replacement patients were 31 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack, whereas hip-replacement patients saw a 25 percent increase.
Cardiac risks tapered off for knee-replacement patients after two weeks, but risks for hip-replacement patients remained high for six weeks after surgery. Although researchers are unsure what is causing the phenomenon, the increased risks were present across gender and economic lines.
The study reviewed the medical records of more than 95,000 patients in Denmark.