One thing seniors often worry about is joint issues, such as problems with the knee and hip.When issues do occur in these areas, they can have a significant and substantial impact on mobility. Joint replacement surgery often proves beneficial to many aging parents and others in terms of restoring mobility; now a recent study suggests that there may also be a positive impact in terms of heart health.
Joints: A joint is a place in the body at which two bones come together, such as the hip, the knee, the shoulder, etc. Although there can be numerous causes of damage to the joint, such as a sudden physical injury to the area, a more common cause of joint issues is arthritis. Common arthritis (or osteoarthritis) often causes a gradual wearing away or deterioration of the joint, resulting in pain, swelling, stiffness, etc.
The study: Conducted by a group of Canadian scientists, they took a retrospective look at data related to more than 2200 patients who were over 55 years of age, all of whom were diagnosed with osteoarthritis. When they took a look at many different aspects of the data, they found something that seems surprising: those subjects in the group who had a hip or knee replacement were 37% less likely to experience a significant heart problem or death than those who did not have the surgery.
It’s important to point out that this discovery is classified as a “link” between joint replacement surgery and cardiac issues; a definite cause and effect relationship has not been proved, but the data does suggest that there is some sort of connection.
Why should this be? In a way, it’s easy to understand why addressing osteoarthritis in aging parents and other seniors might have a heart benefit, if one first looks more closely at arthritis.
When a person develops arthritis, movement becomes more painful and more difficult; when the joints affected are the knee or the hip, which have a bigger impact on movement than pain in, say, the shoulder or fingers, a person is more likely to feel discomfort while walking, standing, swimming, running, etc. In other words, it is more likely to discourage the kinds of activities that keep a person physically fit. When a person becomes less active and more sedentary, that person is more likely to develop high blood pressure or diabetes, which are much more commonly associated with cardiac issues.
Does this study mean that a senior with severe arthritis in the knee should rush out and get it replaced? No, but it does mean that if the senior does not opt for replacement, he or she may want to take steps to ensure that they remain as physically engaged as possible and be aware of what they can do to control blood pressure and forestall the development of diabetes. As always, consulting with the doctor is the most important first step to take.
Written by: Dr. Nancy Oppenheimer-Marks, owner of Home Instead Senior Care Dallas – Central http://www.homeinstead.com/263
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