Hip replacement tied to lower risk of heart failure, depression

Total hip replacements offer seniors the chance to enjoy independent living even if they have painful osteoarthritis, and while that may be the most significant benefit the surgery offers, researchers say there are other advantages as well. A study presented at the recent meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons suggests that undergoing total hip replacement not only helps seniors stay active but could lower their risk of heart failure, diabetes and depression.

The findings are based off a review of more than 43,000 Medicare recipients who had osteoarthritis in their hips. Researchers divided the subjects into two groups: one included patients who had hip replacement, while individuals in the other received no such treatment. After following the subjects over the course of seven years, study leaders found that people who had hip replacement enjoyed a 52 percent lower mortality risk than those who did not undergo surgery. 

"The study has demonstrated that total hip replacement confers a potential long-term benefit in terms of prolonged lifespan and reduced burden of disease in Medicare patients with osteoarthritis of the hip," said Dr. Scott Lovald, the study's lead author. 

Although researchers offered no reasons for the correlation between total hip replacement and healthy aging, the relationship could be due to the fact that the artificial joint allowed study participants to stay more physically and socially active, which are both cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle for seniors

Being able to exercise could also be responsible for the lower risk of depression. In fact, a 2011 study of 17,500 seniors conducted at the University of Gothenberg found those who were most physically active lowered the risk of suffering from depression as they aged.