Over the past couple of years, I’ve told you about highly significant research showing that knee replacements are not the easy, effective procedures that conventional medicine seems to think they are.
And now, a large new study shows that knee replacement surgery is actually much more dangerous than many people thought.
In fact, getting your knee or hip replaced can substantially increase your risk of having a post-surgery heart attack. And it can also make you more susceptible to potentially fatal blood clots for years after the procedure.
Let’s take a closer look at this shocking new research. And then I’ll tell you how you can improve your joint health without surgery.
Trauma to your joints can cause trauma to your heart
Researchers analyzed data from 27,698 people, age 50 or older, who had been diagnosed with knee or hip osteoarthritis between 2000 and 2013. Half of those people had knee or hip replacement surgery, and half didn’t.
The researchers compared heart attack incidences in the two groups. They discovered that 306 of the peoplewho had knee or hip replacements had a heart attack in the month following surgery. But only 286 of the nonsurgical group had heart attacks during the same time frame.
To put it another way, people who had knee or hip replacements had a 5% greater chance of having a heart attack than people who didn’t have the surgery.
The heart attack risk in the surgical group lessened over time. But what didn’t lessen was the likelihood of blood clots after surgery.
Specifically, the people who had knee or hip replacements had increased risk of blood clots forming in their legs. And this risk persisted for years after the procedure.
Now, you don’t have to be medical a specialist to understand that for blood to properly circulate in your body, it must be able to flow freely through the veins back to the heart. If blood flow gets blocked or slowed in the veins it has a tendency to form clots—especially in the legs.
And here’s the really frightening part. Blood clots in your legs can travel to your lungs. And that can create a pulmonary embolism— which can kill you. In fact, pulmonary embolism is a leading cause of sudden death.
So how do knee or hip replacements help create these blood clots? Well, first of all, they’re major surgical procedures. I’m talking about cutting and displacing muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones—using the surgical equivalent of saws, hammers, and chisels.
It’s hardly surprising that this causes immense damage to leg tissues, including blood vessels. And when blood vessels have been pummeled like this, or even cut out or cut off, there are major problems with blood circulation and drainage.
Voilà—increased risk of blood clots and pulmonary embolism, persisting for years.
All risk, no reward
So, thanks to this new research, we now know that knee or hip replacements can substantially increase your risk of dying from a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism—not at all surprising.
And, as I told you in the Aug. 26, 2014 Daily Dispatch, there’s a good chance that undergoing this surgery won’t even make your knees feel or work better at all.
Researchers found that only 44% of knee replacement surgeries are “appropriate.” Twenty-two percent were “inconclusive.” And a whopping 34% were considered “inappropriate” in the first place.
That means the patient didn’t meet the proper medical criteria needed for a joint replacement—but got one anyway. Often, these people only had slight or moderate pain or loss of mobility in their knees, and were younger than 55. But an orthopedic surgeon went ahead and did surgery anyway.
As if that weren’t bad enough, in the January 2015 issue of Insiders’ Cures, I told you about a major study of 3.3 million people that found that 10% of all knee replacements simply don’t work or wear out. Meaning those poor people had to have another dangerous surgery to repair the first botched surgery.
So basically, when it comes to knee replacements, you have about equal chances of having an inappropriate procedure, an ineffective procedure, or an effective procedure.
And betting on one out of three is not good odds when it comes to having major surgery. As this new study has taught us, you may be literally betting your life.
First of all, there’s always a real risk of major complications anytime you undergo general anesthesia and major surgery. And, as we just learned, the post-operative recovery period can be incredibly dangerous. Especially because hospitals and surgical centers are increasingly pushing patients out the door more quickly after surgery (driven by ever-worsening health insurance policies under Obamacare).
Supplement your way to healthier knees
Putting it all together, at least two-thirds of the people who are considering, or being encouraged to get, joint replacements should not rush to surgery.
Not only because these procedures may not work, but because they also increase the short-term risk of heart attacks and the long-term risks of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms—all of which can be fatal.
So if you have aching knees or loss of mobility, what should you do instead?
Well, as I’ve often reported, don’t bother with glucosamine and chondroitin. Real science shows these tired old joint supplements simply don’t work. That’s because they use the wrong model for rebuilding joint cartilage.
The first step in naturally rebuilding cartilage is to reduce joint inflammation. But glucosamine and chondroitin can’t stop that inflammation.
Fortunately, there are supplements that can. I like to call them the ABCs, or the “three wise men” of joint health.
I’m talking about ashwaganda, Boswellia, and curcumin.
Ahswaganda and Boswellia come from ancient South Asian trees, and both are important treatments in Ayurvedic medicine. Ashwaganda is derived from the winter cherry tree, while Boswellia is a tree gum resin that’s better known as frankincense. And curcumin is the active ingredient in the well-known medicinal plant and common spice turmeric.
Research shows that each of these natural substances is effective at reducing inflammation and pain. And when you put them all together, they are a formidable trio for joint health.
Based upon scientific studies, the individual doses of my ABCs of joint health are 400 to 500 mg each of ashwaganda, Boswellia, and curcumin. But there is good evidence that all of these botanicals have synergistic effects with the others when taken in combination, beating even the most potent (and dangerous) drugs.
So be like the Wise Men who brought these gifts to the Messiah on Epiphany (January 6)—and don’t be caught without an effective joint remedy this year.
”Total Joint Arthroplasty and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction: A General Population, Propensity Score-Matched Cohort Study.” Arthritis Rheumatol. 2015 Oct;67(10):2771-9.