Knee Replacement May Save Lives

March 7, 2012
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The US has more knee replacements per capita than any other nation. Is that because we want 85-year-olds to be able to stay on the ski slopes? More serious issues may be involved.

The US has more knee replacements per capita than any other nation. Is that because we want 85-year-olds to be able to stay on the ski slopes? More serious issues may be involved.

In a sweeping study of Medicare records, researchers from Philadelphia and Menlo Park, Calif., examined the effects of joint replacement among nearly 135,000 patients with new diagnoses of osteoarthritis of the knee from 1997 to 2009. About 54,000 opted for knee replacement; 81,000 did not.

Three years after diagnosis, the knee replacement patients had an 11 percent lower risk of heart failure. And after seven years, their risk of dying for any reason was 50 percent lower.

More from Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times.